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Social Media Platforms: Under Increased Scrutiny Regarding Online Security For Children

The New Mexico Department of Justice recently filed new court documents in its lawsuit against Meta (f/k/a Facebook) showing that Meta employees had raised internal concerns about child safety on its platforms.

The New Mexico attorney general alleges that Meta executives knew by "their own estimation" that "100,000 children a day were receiving inappropriate adult content," but failed to take action.

According to the allegations contained in the court documents, employees claimed executives opposed messaging safeguards and failed to consistently enforce safety policies across all platforms. The employees alleged that executives were more concerned with how to market features, such as Reels, to teen users, than online child safety.

The documents allegedly "show a backlog of around 2.5 million potentially underage users whose accounts needed a review." Jonathan Fjeld "NMDOJ: New docs show Meta employees' internal concerns over child safety" www.kob.com (Jan. 19, 2024).


Commentary and Checklist


In 2022, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children CyberTipline "received more than 32 million reports of suspected child sexual exploitation." These reports of online child cyber exploitation include:

·      Child sex trafficking and tourism

·      Child prostitution

·      Misleading words or digital images

·      Unsolicited obscene material sent to children

·      Misleading domain name

·      Enticement of children for the making of child pornography

·      Production, and sale of, child pornography

·      Online transmission of children engaged in sexual activity

The U.S. Department of Justice recommends adults take these measures to help protect children:

1.   "Discuss internet safety and develop an online safety plan with children before they engage in online activity."

2.   "Supervise young children's use of the internet, including periodically checking their profiles and posts."

3.   "Review games, apps, and social media sites before they are downloaded or used by children."

4.   "Adjust privacy settings and use parental controls for online games, apps, social medial sites, and electronic devices."

5.   "Tell children to avoid sharing personal information, photos, and videos online in public forums or with people they do not know in real life."

6.   "Teach children about body safety and boundaries, including the importance of saying 'no' to inappropriate requests both in the physical world and the virtual world."

7.   "Be alert to potential signs of abuse, including changes in children's use of electronic devices, attempts to conceal online activity, withdrawn behavior, angry outbursts, anxiety, and depression."

8.   Encourage children to tell you or another trusted adult "if anyone asks them to engage in sexual activity or other inappropriate behavior."

9.   "Immediately report suspected online enticement or sexual exploitation of a child by calling 911, contacting the FBI at tips.fbi.gov, or filing a report with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) at 1-800-843-5678 or report.cybertip.org." "Keeping Children Safe Online" www.justice.gov (May 12, 2023).




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