EU Launches Investigation into Meta Over Alleged Child Safety Breaches

European Commission Launches Investigation into Meta | The Enterprise World

(Source – The Guardian)

The European Union has launched a significant investigation into Meta, the parent company of Facebook, over alleged violations of the bloc’s stringent online content laws concerning child safety risks.

According to a statement from the European Commission, the EU’s executive body, the investigation will focus on whether Meta’s platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, “may stimulate behavioral addictions in children, as well as create so-called ‘rabbit-hole effects’.”

Collaborate with the European Commission

One of the key concerns highlighted by the Commission is the effectiveness of age verification processes on Meta’s platforms, along with the potential privacy risks associated with the company’s recommendation algorithms.

Responding to the investigation, a spokesperson for Meta informed CNBC via email that the company has dedicated significant efforts over the past decade to develop more than 50 tools and policies aimed at protecting young users online. They expressed readiness to collaborate with the European Commission and share details of their work.

The decision to launch the investigation follows a preliminary analysis of a risk assessment report submitted by Meta in September 2023. Thierry Breton, the EU’s commissioner for the internal market, emphasized that the Commission is not convinced Meta has taken adequate measures to comply with the obligations set forth in the Digital Services Act (DSA) to mitigate the risks posed to the physical and mental health of young Europeans.

The EU has announced plans for an in-depth investigation into Meta’s child protection measures as a priority, indicating that it will utilize various means such as requests for information, interviews, and inspections to gather evidence.

Meta News | Meta’s Facebook, Instagram Face Probe In Europe Over Child Safety Risks

Meta is facing legal challenges 

Under the DSA, the EU has the authority to impose fines of up to 6% of a company’s global annual revenues for violations. While no fines have been issued to tech giants under this law thus far, Meta and other U.S. tech firms have faced increasing scrutiny from EU regulators since the introduction of the DSA.

In December 2023, the EU initiated infringement proceedings against X (previously known as Twitter) over suspected failures to combat content disinformation and manipulation. Meta is also under investigation for alleged DSA infringements related to its handling of election disinformation.

Apart from EU actions, Meta is facing legal challenges in the United States as well. The attorney general of New Mexico has filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging that Facebook and Instagram facilitated child sexual abuse, solicitation, and trafficking. Meta has responded by highlighting its use of sophisticated technology and preventive measures to address such concerns.

As regulatory scrutiny intensifies both in Europe and the United States, Meta finds itself under increasing pressure to address child safety risks and comply with evolving online content regulations. The outcome of the EU investigation could have significant implications for the company’s operations and regulatory landscape.

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