The European Commission calls on Meta to take action to curb paedophile networks on Instagram. On Thursday, the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, Thierry Breton, called on the executive director of Meta, Mark Zuckerberg, "to act immediately" to protect minors on the platform, aftera joint investigation between The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and the universities of Stanford and Massachusetts Amherst showed that the application promotes the link of pedophile networks. According to the researchers, Instagram's algorithm helps connect and promote a vast network of accounts dedicated to the purchase of sexual content from minors.
Breton said on his official Twitter account that "Meta's voluntary code for child protection doesn't seem to work. Now, Mark Zuckerberg must explain himself and act immediately." On June 23, the commissioner will meet with Meta's number one at the company's headquarters in California, United States, following the application of the European Union's digital services law.
#Meta's voluntary code on child protection seems not to work.
Mark Zuckerberg must now explain & take immediate action.
I will discuss with him at Meta's HQ in Menlo Park on 23 June.
After 25 August, under #DSA Meta has to demonstrate measures to us or face heavy sanctions. pic.twitter.com/jA25IJH8Dp
— Thierry Breton (@ThierryBreton) June 8, 2023
The Digital Services Directive (DSA), the official name of the standard, establishes obligations of transparency and access to the algorithms of large digital platforms. Among other things, it forces them to quickly remove illegal content and be transparent about the design of their algorithms, which determine what users see on the internet and social networks.
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The regulation also raises the protection of fundamental rights (restrictions on the use of data of race or religion) or fines that, in the case of technological giants, can reach up to 6% of their global revenues in case they fail to comply with the requirements. "From August 25, under the digital services law, Meta will have to prove that it takes action or face heavy sanctions," the European commissioner said.
The researchers found that Instagram — which has more than 1.300 billion users — easily allowed people to search for explicit labels about pedophilia. On some occasions, even emoticons that connected them to accounts that used the terms to advertise the sale of child sexual material or even encounters with minors. "Instagram connects pedophiles and guides them to content marketers through recommendation systems, which stand out among the links that share common interests," explains the US media.
Meta acknowledged the problems within its enforcement operations and responded to the WSJ that in the past two years it has removed 27 pedophile networks from Instagram. It had established an internal working group to address those issues.
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