Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody Requests Testimony from Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Alleged Use of Facebook in Human Trafficking Cases
Florida Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody recently penned a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, urging him to testify before Florida’s Statewide Council on Human Trafficking. The letter, dated Monday, highlights concerns raised by law enforcement agencies who claim that Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp are frequently used platforms in human trafficking cases. Moody proposes October as the timeframe for Zuckerberg’s appearance.
Moody emphasizes the need for Zuckerberg to prioritize making Meta’s existing platforms safer for users and preventing vulnerable individuals from being coerced into illicit activities, such as sex trafficking. She highlights the findings of a statewide survey and reports indicating that Meta platforms are frequently used by human traffickers to target vulnerable individuals.
The survey conducted by Florida’s human trafficking council, chaired by Moody, involved gathering insights from law enforcement agencies regarding the role played by various social media companies in facilitating human trafficking. According to Moody, over 53% of the 271 human trafficking cases involving social media were connected by law enforcement to Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger.
Moody extends an invitation to Zuckerberg to appear before the council to discuss this critical issue and provide insights into the measures Meta is taking to prevent its platforms from being utilized to aid, facilitate, or support human trafficking.
Moody has set a deadline of September 5 for Zuckerberg to respond to her request. This letter comes in the wake of a report by The Wall Street Journal and academic researchers, which alleged that Instagram was enabling a significant pedophile network.
The concerns raised by the report likely contributed to Moody’s urgency in requesting Zuckerberg’s testimony. By addressing these pressing issues and holding Meta accountable for platform safety, Moody aims to ensure the protection of vulnerable individuals and combat the illicit activities facilitated through social media platforms.
According to The Wall Street Journal, in collaboration with researchers from Stanford University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Instagram was reported to have allowed and promoted accounts that openly engaged in the purchase and commissioning of “underage-sex content.” The investigation suggested that the platform failed to effectively address this issue, raising concerns about the safety and well-being of vulnerable individuals.
Researchers from the Stanford Internet Observatory have uncovered accounts on Instagram that have posted explicit “menus,” offering inappropriate content including imagery of minors engaging in sexual acts with animals. These menus also allegedly featured videos of children harming themselves or enticing others to meet up with them.
In 2022, Facebook reported over 21 million instances of what appeared to be child pornography, while Instagram reported over 5 million similar instances. These alarming figures highlight the pressing need for enhanced measures to prevent the dissemination of harmful content involving minors on these platforms.