Mark Zuckerberg indicted in human trafficking case

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Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who is also the CEO of parent company Meta Platforms, has been sued by shareholders. Pension and investment funds, among others, claim that Facebook and Instagram have been turning a blind eye to practices of human trafficking and exploitation via those social networks for years.

Not only Zuckerberg is the subject of the lawsuit. Some of his fellow directors have also been charged, as have former Meta directors. They would have known that criminals used Facebook and Instagram to find victims.

“Over the past decade, Meta’s platforms have aided, supported and facilitated the perpetrators of widespread sex trafficking, human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children that took place on the platforms on a large scale,” the indictment reads. “Substantial evidence shows that the board of directors, as well as management, turned a blind eye to this growing phenomenon.”

Also listen | Dutch personal data unlawfully traded by Facebook for 10 years

A spokesperson for Meta states that the group is doing a lot to combat this problem. The spokesman says that the company “emphatically prohibits the exploitation of people and the sexual exploitation of children.”

A German environmental movement is also suing Meta, but then because the company does too little against online hate and threats. For example, Facebook let a group in which violence was regularly threatened. The threatening messages sometimes remained online for weeks despite reports.

The lawsuits are just a few of many that Meta has been dealing with lately. The company is under a magnifying glass because of the way it handles user data, but also because of alleged anti-competitive practices. The company is under fire for buying up companies that could become a major competitor when they are still small. It also made agreements with Google parent Alphabet about cooperation in the online advertising market.

In addition, the mental health of children and teenagers in particular has long been a point of attention. This is hampered by the use of social networks and Meta’s own research showed that this applies in particular to teenage girls. But Meta kept that information to itself for a long time and did not adjust the way its social networks work.

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