A new civil suit filed by the New Mexico attorney general’s office alleges that Instagram and Facebook have become platforms that offer opportunities for child predators to interact with children.
The suit follows one that was filed by dozens of attorneys general in October that made similar accusations against Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta empire.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the lawsuit, which was filed on Tuesday, alleged that Zuckerberg is personally responsible for making Instagram a place where children are not safe.
The suit claimed the platform is designed in such a way that profits from advertising are more important than the safety of its younger users.
Officials at the New Mexico attorney general’s office said they were able to prove that Meta is designed to place children in vulnerable positions online after they created false accounts that purported to be teens and preteens.
According to the lawsuit, as reported by the Journal, those false accounts were immediately bombarded with inappropriate sexual content.
Not only were the accounts — which used images generated through artificial intelligence — bombarded with explicit content, but they were also targeted by adults.
The Journal reported, “The suit says that Meta’s algorithms recommended sexual content to those accounts and that they were inundated with explicit messages and sexual propositions from other users.”
Investigators created one such account that used the name Issa Bee, a 13-year-old girl from Albuquerque.
The account “attracted thousands of adult followers who deluged her with both invitations to join private chat groups and sex content featuring both children and adults, according to the suit,” the Journal reported.
Results on Facebook Messenger, which is available for children, were similar according to the report.
“On Facebook Messenger, the account’s chats are ‘filled with pictures and videos of genitalia, including exposed penises, which she received at least 3-4 times per week,’ the complaint states.”
In total, the New Mexico attorney general’s office created four accounts that purported to be children — two accounts that posed as young girls and two that posed as young boys.
The accounts each used false birth dates, as young children who sign up for accounts often do.
But all four accounts posted as if they were much younger and were each met with troubling solicitations from adults.
One of the decoy accounts was also invited to follow another account that routinely posts pornography, the suit alleged.
The suit concluded that Facebook and Instagram have “become a marketplace for predators in search of children” and that “the features of the platform itself are not engineered in a way to prevent this matchmaking from likely predators and likely victims.”
Asked for comment, Meta did not address the lawsuit specifically but claimed the company works to protect children who use its platforms.
A statement from the company said, “We use sophisticated technology, hire child safety experts, report content to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and share information and tools with other companies and law enforcement, including state attorneys general, to help root out predators.”
In October, a similar lawsuit filed by dozens of separate attorneys general from states coast to coast also alleged Meta places profits over safeguarding children who are at risk of being taken advantage of by adults.
The suit also alleged Instagram’s algorithms are specifically designed to keep children using the platform for hours on end often at the detriment of their psychological and emotional well-being.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.