Meta reportedly won't make its AI advertising tools
Meta reportedly won't make its AI advertising tools

Complaint claims Meta targeted children on its platforms

What To Know

  • Meta professes its commitment to safeguarding children on its platform, asserting that individuals under 13 cannot register on Instagram or Facebook due to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998.
  • Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged this reality during a congressional hearing in March 2021, stating that “there is clearly a large number of people under the age of 13 who would want to use a service like Instagram.
  • The complaint contends, “Within the company, Meta's actual knowledge that millions of Instagram users are under the age of 13 is an open secret that is routinely documented, rigorously analyzed and confirmed, and zealously protected from disclosure to the public.
  • Meta responded to the allegations by stating, “However, verifying the age of people online is a complex industry challenge.

Meta professes its commitment to safeguarding children on its platform, asserting that individuals under 13 cannot register on Instagram or Facebook due to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998. However, the prevalence of underage users persists, as falsifying information online remains a widespread practice.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged this reality during a congressional hearing in March 2021, stating that “there is clearly a large number of people under the age of 13 who would want to use a service like Instagram.”

To address this, Meta has explored the concept of creating Instagram Youth. In October, several states filed a lawsuit against Meta, accusing the company of enticing children under 13 onto its platforms. An unsealed complaint, reported by The New York Times on Wednesday, alleges that Meta actively sought children under 13 and, even after discovery, failed to disable many underage accounts while continuing to harvest their data.

The complaint contends, “Within the company, Meta’s actual knowledge that millions of Instagram users are under the age of 13 is an open secret that is routinely documented, rigorously analyzed and confirmed, and zealously protected from disclosure to the public.”

According to Engadget, the complaint reveals that Meta “disabled only a fraction of those accounts” out of over 1.1 million reports of under-13 users on Instagram from 2019-2023, and the company allegedly continued to collect children’s data without parental consent.

Meta responded to the allegations by stating, “However, verifying the age of people online is a complex industry challenge. Many people — particularly those under the age of 13 — don’t have an ID, for example. That’s why Meta is supporting federal legislation that requires app stores to get parents’ approval whenever their teens under 16 download apps. With this approach, parents and teens won’t need to provide hundreds of individual apps with sensitive information like government IDs in order to verify their age.”

These revelations follow years of research indicating the negative impact of social media on children. Facebook’s own research, disclosed in 2021, highlighted that “Instagram is harmful to a sizable percentage of [teens], most notably teenage girls.”

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