Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been called to testify about the complicity of its social media platforms in facilitating an “extraordinary” number of human trafficking cases.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is demanding Zuckerberg testify after a new report by Florida’s Statewide Council revealed Meta’s role in over half of the state’s human trafficking cases.
The survey conducted by the council was sent out to 80 law enforcement agencies throughout Florida. Based on the results, it revealed that Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp were used to facilitate 146 of the 271 reported cases of social media platforms being used by traffickers to commit their crimes in Florida, between 2019 and 2022.
“The results were extraordinary,” Moody tells Zuckerberg in a letter sent to the Meta CEO on Monday.
“According to the survey, 146 of the 271 reported instances of social media platform use in human trafficking were attributable to Meta platforms (Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger), more than 53% of the reported instances involved.
“To put this number in perspective, after Meta platforms, the next highest social media platform used in human trafficking was Snapchat, and it was utilized 19 times, seven times less than Meta platforms.”
Moody has called for the Meta CEO to speak with Florida’s Statewide Council on Human Trafficking on whether the company was taking any preventative measures to end these crimes on its platforms. The letter requested a response from Zuckerberg by September 5.
‘A Public Safety Threat’
She called the situation a “public safety threat” and added that the survey found Meta’s social media platforms were used to recruit victims, as well as in trafficking operations and to control victims.
“Before launching new products or wasting time preparing for a cage match that will likely never happen, Zuckerberg should be working to make Meta’s existing platforms safer for users and to prevent vulnerable people from being forced into illicit sex work,” Moody states.
“Zuckerberg needs to immediately turn his attention to this public safety threat and testify to our council about what Meta is doing to prevent its platforms from being used to assist, facilitate or support human trafficking.”
In April, a two-year investigation by The Guardian revealed that Facebook and Instagram have become marketplaces for child sex trafficking and Meta is struggling to take sufficient action to prevent criminals from using its platforms.
In response to the allegations in the extensive report, a Meta spokesperson stated: “The exploitation of children is a horrific crime — we don’t allow it and we work aggressively to fight it on and off our platforms.”
Image credits: Header by Anthony Quintano, CC by 2.0