Attorney General Raúl Torrez Sues Meta Platforms and Zuckerberg to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse and Human Trafficking 

State Agency Press Release – From the New Mexico Office of Attorney General

Santa Fe, NM – Today, Attorney General Raúl Torrez filed a lawsuit against Meta Platforms, Inc., Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, and the company’s wholly-owned subsidiaries — including Instagram, LLC and Facebook Holdings, LLC — to protect children from sexual abuse, online solicitation, and human trafficking. 

“Our investigation into Meta’s social media platforms demonstrates that they are not safe spaces for children but rather prime locations for predators to trade child pornography and solicit minors for sex,” said Attorney General Torrez. “As a career prosecutor who specialized in internet crimes against children, I am committed to using every available tool to put an end to these horrific practices and I will hold companies — and their executives — accountable whenever they put profits ahead of children’s safety.” 

Over the past few months, the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office carried out an undercover investigation of Meta’s platforms, creating decoy accounts of children 14-years and younger. The Office gathered evidence that those platforms have:

  • Proactively served and directed the underage users a stream of egregious, sexually explicit images — even when the child has expressed no interest in this content
  • Enabled dozens of adults to find, contact, and press children into providing sexually explicit pictures of themselves or participate in pornographic videos.
  • Recommended that the children join unmoderated Facebook groups devoted to facilitating commercial sex.
  • Allowed Facebook and Instagram users to find, share, and sell an enormous volume of child pornography. 
  • Allowed a fictitious mother to offer her 13-year-old daughter for sale to sex traffickers and to create a professional page to allow her daughter to share revenue from advertising.

“Mr. Zuckerberg and other Meta executives are aware of the serious harm their products can pose to young users, and yet they have failed to make sufficient changes to their platforms that would prevent the sexual exploitation of children,” AG Torrez added. “Despite repeated assurances to Congress and the public that they can be trusted to police themselves, it is clear that Meta’s executives continue to prioritize engagement and ad revenue over the safety of the most vulnerable members of our society.”

As outlined in today’s filing, Meta fails to remove Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) across its platforms and enables adults to find, contact, and solicit underage users to produce illicit pornographic imagery and participate in commercial sex. The New Mexico Attorney General’s complaint also details how Meta harms children and teenagers through the addictive design of its platform, degrading users’ mental health, their sense of self-worth, and their physical safety.

The Office’s investigators found that certain child exploitative content is over ten times more prevalent on Facebook and Instagram than it is on Pornhub and OnlyFans. Moreover, while the images and case studies included in the complaint are shocking, the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office excluded many images its investigators found on Meta’s platforms from the complaint because they were deemed too graphic and disturbing. Nonetheless, the complaint opens with a black box warning regarding the censored sexually explicit and self-harm images that are included.

Parents and children who have grappled with sexual exploitation enabled by social media platforms, as well as those who have experienced addiction, depression, eating disorders or other self-harm or mental health issues because of their use of social media, are encouraged to come forward to share their experiences with the Attorney General’s Office. Resources for getting help can be found here.

To read a copy of the complaint please click here.