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EU official to confront Zuckerberg after damning report on company’s handling of child sexual abuse material


EU official to confront Zuckerberg after damning report on company’s handling of child sexual abuse material

News Portal Space

A top European Union official plans to confront Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg in an in-person meeting over reports this week that the company has failed to prevent the spread of child sexual abuse material on its platform.

Thierry Breton, a European commissioner who has led the charge on regulating digital platforms, will visit Meta’s California headquarters on June 23 and plans to raise the matter with Zuckerberg personally, he tweeted Thursday.

“#Meta’s voluntary code on child protection seems not to work,” Breton said. “Mark Zuckerberg must now explain & take immediate action.”

Breton added that Meta will be subject to the European Union’s sweeping content moderation law — known as the Digital Services Act — by the end of the summer, and that violations could carry “heavy sanctions.” The law permits fines equaling up to 6% of a company’s global revenue.

Meta didn’t immediately respond to News Portal Space’s request for comment on the meeting.

An investigation conducted jointly by the Wall Street Journal and researchers at Stanford University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst found that Meta-owned Instagram has helped foster a robust marketplace for child pornography.

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According to the investigation, whose results were published this week, Instagram’s technology has helped connect creators, sellers and buyers of underage pornography via its algorithms, search functions and hashtags.

In response to the findings, a Meta spokesperson told News Portal Space the company has set up an internal task force to investigate the claims, which has already resulted in the fixing of an unexpected technical issue that kept “certain user reports from reaching content reviewers.”

The company added that it removed more than 490,000 accounts in January 2023 for violating its child safety policies.

“Child exploitation is a horrific crime,” the spokesperson said. “We work aggressively to fight it on and off our platforms, and to support law enforcement in its efforts to arrest and prosecute the criminals behind it.”

Breton’s visit to Meta comes as EU officials are also set to descend on Twitter’s San Francisco offices later this month to conduct an evaluation of that platform’s ability to comply with the Digital Services Act.

It is unclear whether Breton’s travel to California may involve a similar stress test of Meta’s platforms, or if the meeting with Zuckerberg had been scheduled before the findings of the investigation came out this week.

A spokesperson for the European Commission didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

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