WASHINGTON, DC (January 10, 2024) – The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) said that Meta’s changes to automatically restrict the Instagram and Facebook accounts of minors to protect them from harmful content are common-sense and long overdue, but is skeptical at how effective they will be in keeping kids safe on Meta platforms.
“It is apparent that Meta is finally facing enough public pressure from lawsuits, media, advocates, whistleblowers, and Congress to do what they should have done since the very beginning: treat teens as kids – not adults – and to afford them more protections,” said Lina Nealon, Vice President and Director of Corporate Advocacy, National Center on Sexual Exploitation.
“Meta will finally implement what we have been urging the company to do for years by proactively preventing teens ages 13 – 15 from seeing sexually explicit content, and protecting all teens from harmful subjects such as suicide ideation, self-harm, and eating disorder promotion. We know that this type of material can lead to untold trauma in and of itself – but it is also used by predators to hone in on and groom potentially vulnerable children who are posting, exploring, and commenting on these issues. We hope that these changes will indeed greatly mitigate the untold harms Meta has both directly caused and indirectly facilitated against its young users for much too long.”
NCOSE would like Meta to explain why sexually explicit content is not blocked for all teens.
“While we welcome these changes, we must not forget that just last month Meta implemented end-to-end encryption (E2EE) on Instagram and Messenger – a devastating blow to child protection. This ‘see no evil’ policy without exceptions for child abuse material has placed millions of children in grave danger. If Meta truly wants to protect children, it must revisit its decision to move to E2EE or prioritize technology to prevent and identify CSAM creation and sharing on its platforms. At the very least, it must roll back E2EE from minor accounts immediately,” said Nealon.
“Given Meta’s move to E2EE and its aggressive competition around AI with its competitors, it remains to be seen if these recent changes will be effective in moving toward greater child protection on the platform overall. We urge Meta to be transparent in how these changes are being implemented and what they are doing to ensure new policies and projects are prioritizing child safety.”
Meta is on NCOSE’s 2023 Dirty Dozen List of mainstream contributors to sexual exploitation. Meta was on the 2022 Dirty Dozen List for its negligence as a parent company – including its plans to move toward end-to-end encryption.
About National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE)
Founded in 1962, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) is the leading national non-partisan organization exposing the links between all forms of sexual exploitation such as child sexual abuse, prostitution, sex trafficking and the public health harms of pornography. www.EndSexualExploitation.org