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  • Voltaire Staff

Meta top bosses scuttled efforts to improve child safety, reveal documents



US lawmakers on Wednesday revealed internal emails allegedly exposing Meta's failed efforts to enhance resources towards protecting teens from harms of Instagram and Facebook.


The revelation came on the day when Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is set to appear before a Senate committee for a deposition on his company's alleged failure in protecting youths from explicit content on Instagram.


The documents from 2021, spanning 90 pages of internal emails, showcased Meta officials discussing the addition of engineers and staff to prioritise children's safety, but in vain, reported New York Times.


A proposal for 45 new staff members for this purpose was rejected by Zuckerberg, it claimed.


Chief executives of several major social media platforms, including Zuckerberg, are gearing up for the hearing, where Congress will question their perceived failure in safeguarding children online.


The Senate judiciary committee will address bipartisan concerns about social media platforms exposing young users to predators, fostering child pornography, and potentially contributing to a teen mental health crisis.


These documents, unveiled for the first time, were referenced in a lawsuit filed last year by 33 state attorneys general. The lawsuit accused Meta of fostering addiction among young users through its apps.


The contents of the documents contradict statements made by company executives, who asserted their commitment to prioritising the well-being of their youngest users and vowed to intensify efforts to combat harmful content on their platform.


The emails show senior executives quibbling over budgets and head counts while also acknowledging regulatory threats related to their handling of teenage users.


Facing his eighth congressional testimony, Zuckerberg's hearing plans include addressing the challenges of parenting in the digital age, as revealed in a copy of his prepared remarks.

 

He also intends to defend Meta by highlighting numerous tools introduced over the past eight years, aimed at empowering parents with more control.

 

During the hearing, Zuckerberg intends to propose that Apple assumes responsibility for age verification through its App Store, as indicated in his prepared remarks. Furthermore, he plans to advocate for legislation mandating teenagers to obtain parental approval for app downloads.


"They use our apps to feel more connected, informed and entertained, as well as to express themselves, create things and explore their interests," he plans to say according to his prepared remarks. "Overall, teens tell us this is a positive part of their lives."

 

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