The following article, Ex-Meta Engineer Raises Alarm On Teen Safety, Sparks Legislative Attention, was first published on Flag And Cross.
<img src="https://storage.googleapis.com/prod-zenger-upload/image/20231108/feat_38e30dd9-c7d5-4d92-b1d8-cb6fa57ab92a.jpg" alt=" Amidst rising concerns over the impact of social media on teen safety, a former Meta Platforms Inc. (NASDAQ:META) engineer’s testimony before a U.S. Senate subcommittee has put the spotlight back on the tech giant’s responsibilities, reported Reuters.NIHARIKA KULKARNI/GETTY IMAGES “>
Amidst rising concerns over the impact of social media on teen safety, a former Meta Platforms Inc. (NASDAQ:META) engineer’s testimony before a U.S. Senate subcommittee has put the spotlight back on the tech giant’s responsibilities, reported Reuters.
What Happened: Arturo Bejar, a former Meta employee, presented allegations to a U.S. Senate subcommittee that the social media behemoth had been aware of the risks teens were exposed to on its platforms but failed to take sufficient protective action.
Bejar, who focused on user well-being at Instagram between 2019 and 2021 and was a former director of engineering for Facebook, emphasized the perils teens face online. In his testimony, he also underscored the urgent need for better tools to report and combat online abuse, especially for vulnerable young users.
His testimony comes at a time when there is a bipartisan push in Congress to legislate parental control tools on social media platforms. Bejar detailed his efforts to positively influence user behavior through design changes and providing resources to handle negative experiences.
Despite regular interactions with Meta’s upper echelon, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Bejar ultimately felt that the executives did not take the necessary steps to address these issues.
He highlighted a concerning email from 2021, pointing to widespread harmful experiences on Instagram, including a troubling amount of unwanted sexual advances towards teens.
On the other hand, Meta has defended its actions, insisting on the company’s commitment to safeguarding young users. The tech giant referred to its ongoing development of features that alert users to potentially harmful content.
Why It Matters: This isn’t the first time that Meta’s commitment to child safety has been brought under scrutiny.
In September earlier this year, the U.K. government urged Meta to place child safety ahead of encryption plans for Instagram and Facebook Messenger. At the time, the U.K. Home Secretary voiced serious concerns regarding the potential for child exploitation, especially with the impending implementation of end-to-end encryption.
Earlier in June 2023, an investigation revealed that Instagram’s algorithms were inadvertently connecting users to child-sex content sellers and promoting networks with pedophilic content. This raised alarms about the platform’s recommendation systems and their role in facilitating such connections.
The testimony by Bejar, coupled with past concerns, underscores the increasing pressure on social media platforms to address the safety of their younger user base proactively.
It also amplifies the conversation surrounding the balance between user privacy through encryption and the need for platforms to be vigilant guardians against online abuse and exploitation.
Produced in association with Benzinga
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