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EU Launches Child Safety Probe into Meta

Meta is facing a significant investigation from the European Union, particularly concerning child safety risks
May 16, 2024

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, is facing a significant investigation from the European Union over alleged violations of the bloc’s strict online content laws concerning child safety risks.

The European Commission, the EU’s executive body, announced that it is examining whether Meta’s platforms, Facebook and Instagram, may be promoting behavioral addictions in children and leading them down harmful online paths.

Among the commission's concerns are the adequacy of age verifications on Meta’s platforms and the privacy risks associated with the company’s recommendation algorithms.

In response to the investigation, a Meta spokesperson emphasized the company's commitment to providing safe online experiences for young people. They stated that Meta has developed over 50 tools and policies over the past decade to protect children online and looks forward to sharing details of its work with the European Commission.

The decision to launch an investigation follows a preliminary analysis of a risk assessment report provided by Meta in September 2023. Thierry Breton, the EU’s commissioner for internal market, expressed doubts about Meta's compliance with the obligations outlined in the Digital Services Act (DSA), particularly regarding the mitigation of risks to the physical and mental health of young Europeans on its platforms.

The EU has announced an in-depth investigation into Meta’s child protection measures as a matter of priority. The commission will gather evidence through requests for information, interviews, or inspections.

This investigation marks another instance of EU scrutiny on U.S. tech giants following the introduction of the bloc’s landmark Digital Services Act. Under the DSA, companies can face fines of up to 6% of their global annual revenues for violations. While the EU has yet to issue fines to any tech giants under this new law, it has opened infringement proceedings against other companies like X, formerly known as Twitter, over suspected failure to combat content disinformation and manipulation.

In addition to the EU's actions, Meta is facing legal challenges in the United States. The attorney general of New Mexico has filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging that Facebook and Instagram enabled child sexual abuse, solicitation, and trafficking. In response, Meta has stated that it employs sophisticated technology and other preventive measures to combat such activities.

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