Meta is launching new encryption technology for direct messages on Facebook and Instagram amid protests by the social media giant’s former employees warning the updated system makes it more difficult to track down online child predators.
Earlier this month, the social media giant enabled “end-to-end” encryption for direct messages, which blocks anyone except the sender and receiver from viewing the contents of the communication, on Facebook and Instagram to ensure privacy protection for users.
Zuckerberg’s employees took issue with the encrypting Facebook messages when the project was initially announced in March 2019, prompting workers to resign in protest.
The 39-year-old Meta Chief Executive said at the time that “the future of communication will increasingly shift to private, encrypted services where people can be confident what they say to each other stays secure.”
Former engineer director David Erb quit working at Meta in protest of the initiative. In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Erb, who ran Facebook’s “community integrity” team details how adults find children to prey upon using Facebook’s “People You May Know” algorithm.
“It was a hundred times worse than any of us expected,” he told the publication. “There were millions of pedophiles targeting tens of millions of children.”
Erb warned his superiors that encrypting direct messages on Facebook would provide a safe haven for predators who preyed upon children.
Meta spokesperson Andy Stone predictably downplays his company’s role in facilitating pedophilia and minimizes his former employees’ complaints about the encryption messaging.
“Former employees are entitled to their opinions, but not their own facts. The truth is, while we’d long invested in child safety efforts, in 2018 we began to restrict recommendations for potentially suspicious adults, continued ongoing efforts removing large groups of violating accounts and even supported a successful push to update the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reporting statute to cover many grooming situations, which previously had been included,” Stone said in a statement to Erb’s allegations.
As the former Meta engineer predicted, months later in May 2020, Department of Homeland Security investigators were notified of Meta users were using the encryption technology to prey on children. i
In one instance, Karl Quitter, a Chicago man, exploited the new technology to solicit sexually explicit photos and videos of at least nine teenage girls in the Philippines.
Using the alias “Mathew Jones,” Quitter “preyed on the victims’ financial difficulties, using money transfers to the victims’ families to entice the girls to take the sexually explicit images,” according to federal prosecutors.
In an encrypted message to one 16-year-old victim in 2020, Quitter bribed the underaged girl, promising to send money to her family for medicine and food if she acquiesced to his demands.
“If u do what I tell you … I will make sure u can buy food for 2 weeks and your medication,” Quitter said in the message. “Think of your little sister that she can e[a]t for 2 weeks everyday 3 meals a day and u get well.”
Facebook investigators turned Quitter’s messages over to authorities and he was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for sexually exploiting children.
Facebook’s “trust and safety team’s ability to access messages was instrumental” in bringing about an arrest, a DHS investigator told WSJ.
In June, researchers found Instagram’s recommendation algorithms linked to and even promote a “vast pedophile network” that advertises the sale of illicit “child-sex material” on the platform.
Instagram allowed users to search by hashtags related to child-sex abuse, including graphic terms such as #pedowhore, #preteensex, #pedobait and #mnsfw — the latter an acronym meaning “minors not safe for work,” researchers at Stanford University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst told the Wall Street Journal.
As The Gateway Pundit has reported, New Mexico Attorney General Raul Torrez is suing Meta and Zuckerberg after authorities uncovered a series of communications among sex predators operating with the state, utilizing the seemingly innocuous term “PIZZA” as a code word to obscure their illicit activities on Meta.
“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,” Attorney General Torrez said in a statement.
“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,” he added.
During the past several months, the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office launched an undercover operation posing as minors under 14 on Meta’s platforms. This sting operation led to disturbing findings, where it was discovered that:
- Proactively served and directed to 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.
You can read the disturbing full 228-page complaint on the New Mexico Attorney General’s website.
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