Florida AG Seeks to Grill Zuckerberg on Meta’s Status as ‘Preferred Apps for Human Traffickers’

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been called out over safety concerns on his platforms as his company launches a competitor to Elon Musk’s Twitter, one of the few major social media apps he does not own.

On Monday, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody wrote a letter to Zuckerberg that described the results of an investigation into human trafficking on social media platforms, including his own.

“According to the survey, 146 of the 271 reported instances of social media platform use in human trafficking were attributable to Meta platforms (lnstagram, Facebook, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger), more than 53% of the reported instances involved,” she said.

Moody also cited the 2022 Federal Human Trafficking Report to note that extensive human trafficking on Meta platforms is not a recent development. She said Facebook was the No. 1 platform for human trafficking from 2019 to 2022, while also noting the role of Instagram.

The attorney general said she wanted answers from Zuckerberg.

“The results are in and @Meta platforms were identified in more than half of #HumanTrafficking instances in Florida that involved social media,” she said Monday on Twitter.

“I am calling on [Zuckerberg] to testify to our Statewide Council on Human Trafficking about what his company is doing to prevent its platforms from being used to assist, facilitate or support human trafficking,” Moody said.

She said she wanted a response from Zuckerberg by Sept. 5. The next meeting of the Statewide Council on Human Trafficking is scheduled for Oct. 2, according to Moody’s news release.

This is not the first time that Facebook has come under fire for safety issues. A Wall Street Journal report in September 2021 heavily criticized the platform for its handling of drug cartels and human traffickers.

Earlier that year, the Texas Supreme Court addressed a case in which victims of sex trafficking sued Facebook, claiming “negligence, negligent undertaking, gross negligence, and products liability based on Facebook’s alleged failure to warn of, or take adequate measures to prevent, sex trafficking on its internet platforms.”

One of the issues was Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which “provides immunity to online platforms from civil liability based on third-party content and for the removal of content in certain circumstances,” according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

In an ominous precedent for Facebook and other platforms, Justice Jimmy Blacklock wrote, “We do not understand section 230 to ‘create a lawless no-man’s-land on the Internet’ in which states are powerless to impose liability on websites that knowingly or intentionally participate in the evil of online human trafficking.”

Now a different state has called out Zuckerberg.

What is he doing instead of ensuring the physical safety of people using his platforms?

For one thing, Meta platforms have been busy at work ensuring that users are safe from conservative points of view. From immigration to abortion, Facebook has been hard at work censoring conservatives. Both Facebook and Instagram have long histories of censorship, including famously banning a sitting president of the United States.

At the same time, Zuckerberg is spending his energy pursuing what some have called a “monopoly” by creating a new social media app. Threads launched this month.

Twitter is now suing Meta over the platform, calling it a “copycat.”

As noted in Moody’s letter, Meta already owns Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

The attorney general mentioned some of Zuckerberg’s other activities in her news release while demanding action.

“Before launching new products or wasting time preparing for a cage match that will likely never happen, Zuckerberg should be working to make Meta’s existing platforms safer for users and to prevent vulnerable people from being forced into illicit sex work,” she said.

That was a reference to talk of Zuckerberg and Musk meeting in the ring.

“The findings of our statewide survey and other reports make it clear that Meta platforms are the preferred social media applications for human traffickers looking to prey on vulnerable people,” Moody wrote.

“Zuckerberg needs to immediately turn his attention to this public safety threat and testify to our council about what Meta is doing to prevent its platforms from being used to assist, facilitate or support human trafficking,” she said.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.


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