New Mexico sues Zuckerberg’s Meta over child sexual exploitation, claiming criminals used 'pizza' as code on FB, Instagram

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New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez has filed a lawsuit against Meta, Mark Zuckerberg, and the subsidiaries owned by Meta alleging that Facebook and Instagram “knowingly exposes children to the twin dangers of sexual exploitation and mental health harm,” noting that “cheese pizza” in a common “proxy for child pornography” seen on the platforms.

“Meta’s platforms Facebook and Instagram are a breeding ground for predators who target children for human trafficking, the distribution of sexual images, grooming, and solicitation. Teens and preteens can easily register for unrestricted accounts because of a lack of age verification. When they do, Meta directs harmful and inappropriate material at them. It allows unconnected adults to have unfettered access to them, which those adults use for grooming and solicitation,” the lawsuit, filed in the First Judicial District Court of New Mexico, states.

The lawsuit states that warnings have been raised by those both inside and outside the company for years, but “nonetheless failed to stem the tide of damaging sexual material and sexual propositions delivered to children.”

An investigation carried out by the Attorney General’s Office has found that Meta has served sexually explicit material to children through its recommendation algorithm, enabled adults to find and interact with minors to sell photos or participate in pornographic videos, hosted unmoderated user-run groups that are devoted to child pornography, and “Allowed, and failed to detect, a fictional mother offering her 13-year old for trafficking, and solicited the 13-year old to create her own professional page and sell advertising.”

The lawsuit notes that numerous Instagram accounts that offer links to child pornography through secondary platforms frequently feature biographies that state “All New Kids Links Available,” with many of the usernames including the word “pizza.”

“Notably, ‘cheese pizza,’ with its shared initials, is known to be a proxy for child pornography,” the lawsuit states.

Accounts feature fully nude or scantily clad young children in sexual positions, and text that talks about the pricing of the content as well as links to purchase it through platforms like Telegram or WhatsApp, platforms that are encrypted.

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