Meta Faces EU Investigation Over Child Safety Risks

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, is currently under investigation by the European Union for potential breaches of the bloc’s strict online content law related to child safety risks. The European Commission has expressed concerns about the impact of Meta’s platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, on children, such as the stimulation of behavioral addictions and the creation of “rabbit-hole effects.” The EU is also investigating age verifications on Meta’s platforms and privacy risks associated with the company’s recommendation algorithms.

In response to the investigation, a Meta spokesperson stated that the company has developed over 50 tools and policies over the past decade to protect young people online. The spokesperson emphasized that ensuring safe and age-appropriate online experiences for young users is a challenge that the entire industry is facing, and Meta is committed to collaborating with the European Commission to address these concerns.

The European Commission’s decision to launch an investigation into Meta’s child protection measures was based on a preliminary risk assessment report from Meta in September 2023. EU Commissioner Thierry Breton expressed skepticism about Meta’s compliance with the obligations outlined in the Digital Services Act (DSA) to mitigate negative effects on the physical and mental health of young Europeans using its platforms.

The EU’s investigation will prioritize examining Meta’s child protection measures and may involve gathering additional evidence through requests for information, interviews, or inspections. The Commission can take enforcement actions, including imposing fines of up to 6% of a company’s global annual revenues for violations of the DSA. Despite the introduction of the DSA, the EU has not yet issued fines to any tech giants under the new law.

In addition to the EU investigation, Meta is facing scrutiny from other authorities over child safety concerns. The attorney general of New Mexico has filed a lawsuit against Meta, alleging that Facebook and Instagram enabled child sexual abuse, solicitation, and trafficking. Meta has defended its efforts to prevent such activities, highlighting the use of sophisticated technology and other preventive measures to combat predators on its platforms.

Overall, Meta’s response to the EU investigation and other regulatory actions will be closely monitored, as the company navigates ongoing challenges related to child safety risks and compliance with online content laws.

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