Lawsuit says Meta board ‘turned blind eye’ to human trafficking

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A shareholder lawsuit filed late Monday accuses board members of Instagram and Facebook parent Meta of shirking their duties by ignoring human and sex trafficking on the tech giant’s social platforms.

The suit filed in the Court of Chancery in the US state of Delaware calls for Mark Zuckerberg, along with other executives and board members, to be ordered to institute reforms and pay damages.

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Meta board members and senior executives named in the suit “turned a blind eye to sex/human trafficking, child sexual exploitation, and other predatory conduct occurring on Meta’s online platforms,” the suit charged.

Meta chief and controlling shareholder Zuckerberg is a primary target of the lawsuit.

“We prohibit human exploitation and child sexual exploitation in no uncertain terms,” Meta spokesperson Andy Stone said in reply to an AFP enquiry.

“The claims in this lawsuit mischaracterize our efforts to combat this type of activity.”

Those behind the suit include Employees’ Retirement System of the State of Rhode Island, Kiwi Investment Management Wholesale Core Global Fund, and Teamsters Pension Fund, according to the filing.

Meta has teams, policies, partnerships and software devoted to thwarting misuse of its platforms for criminal activities.

Meta already faces numerous lawsuits on an array of grounds, including whether it is harmful to the mental health of young users of its social networking services.

The tech titan has been under increasing pressure from legislators since 2021, when whistleblower Frances Haugen -- a former Facebook engineer -- leaked documents suggesting the firm put profits before safety.

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