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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

New Mexico Attorney General Launches Investigation into Meta’s Paid Subscription Services Amid Concerns of Predator Activity

The Attorney General of New Mexico, Raúl Torrez, has announced on Monday that his office will be investigating how Meta’s paid-subscription services attract predators, following concerns about child safety. This move comes after Torrez sued Meta last year, alleging that the company failed to protect children from sexual predators and misled users about the safety of its platforms.

Torrez has formally requested documentation from Meta regarding subscriptions on Facebook and Instagram, particularly focusing on accounts managed by parents on behalf of children. While Instagram’s terms of service prohibit users under 13, accounts solely dedicated to children are allowed as long as they are overseen by adults. A recent investigation by The New York Times revealed that some of these accounts charge followers, including adult men, for additional content such as photos and chat sessions.

The Attorney General expressed deep concern over this pattern of behavior, emphasizing the risk it poses to children. Last December, Torrez filed a complaint against Meta, alleging that the company facilitated harmful interactions between adults and minors on its platforms and failed to adequately address such activity. The complaint cited instances where fake accounts created by Torrez’s office received offers from predators, highlighting the serious nature of the issue.

Despite Instagram’s rules prohibiting users under 18 from offering subscriptions, the so-called “mom-run” accounts have found ways to bypass these restrictions. This revelation prompted Torrez to issue a new request for documents from Meta based on the alarming findings.

Instagram introduced subscriptions in 2022 as part of its efforts to attract users involved in the creator economy. While the platform does not directly profit from subscription revenues, it benefits from hosting popular influencers who choose Instagram to engage with their audience.

Recent reports have shed light on concerns raised by Meta staff members regarding the subscription service rollout. Some employees expressed unease about parents producing content for adult consumption, raising questions about the platform’s responsibility in regulating such activity.

Many of the mom-run accounts offer exclusive content as part of their subscription packages, which parents see as a means to earn additional income for their children. However, they also face challenges in managing followers, with some mothers spending considerable time blocking inappropriate individuals from accessing the accounts.

The investigation led by Torrez adds to the legal scrutiny Meta is facing from state attorneys general across the country. Over 40 attorneys general have sued the company, alleging harm to teens and young adolescents through its products.

In response to Torrez’s latest inquiry, Meta spokesperson Andy Stone reiterated the company’s commitment to combating child exploitation online. Stone emphasized Meta’s use of technology, collaboration with child safety experts, and reporting mechanisms to address predator activity on its platforms.

As the investigation unfolds, the focus remains on ensuring the safety of children and holding platforms like Meta accountable for their role in protecting vulnerable users from harm.

Jonathan James
Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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