In September, detransitioner Chloe Cole, widely known for her testimony about the dangers of transgender operations, was censored on Instagram so that her content would not appear to non-followers in any capacity. As the warning she received stated, “Your account and content won’t appear in places like Explore, Search, Suggested Users, Reels, and Feed Recommendations.”
For several years, conservatives have been skeptical of censorship from social media platforms, of which Cole is the most recent victim. In a 2020 Pew Research poll, results showed most Americans share this concern. Out of 4,708 U.S. adults, the survey stated “roughly three-quarters of U.S. adults say it is very (37%) or somewhat (36%) likely that social media sites intentionally censor political viewpoints that they find objectionable. Just 25% believe this is not likely the case.”
While Republicans remain the most skeptical about social media censorship, other concerns are making their way to court. Investigators in New Mexico filed a lawsuit after they created minor profiles on Facebook and Instagram that were, as the suit stated, “exposed to nudity, pornographic videos, and sexually suggestive images of young girls.” Additionally, as The Epoch Times reported, when the investigators used the fake profiles to report pornographic videos sent to it, Meta “said it investigated and found no violation of its community standards.”
Additionally, “Meta also offered the profile a professional account, which would enable her to make money. Meta would provide information on her audience, which was largely male and adult.” Although, its not just the New Mexico investigators that are showing concern.
A bipartisan letter addressed to Mark Zuckerburg, CEO of Meta, from the United States Senate disclosed “deep concerns about Meta’s apparent failure to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), as alleged in a recently unsealed complaint filed by 33 states against [the] company.” The letter detailed the ways in which “Meta has not even tried to obtain informed parental consent to continue collecting data on those kids — in direct violation of COPPA.”
COPPA is the only online federal privacy law for children, and the states’ complaints emphasized in the letter are based on substantial evidence that Meta has and continues to violate it. The letter concluded, “Meta’s goal here is clear: To do everything in its power to avoid gaining actual knowledge — or, at least, create the perception that it never gained actual knowledge — that a user is a child. In so doing, Meta sought both to continue monetizing that child’s account and establish a lucrative, long-term relationship with them.”
Chris Gacek, senior fellow for Regulatory Affairs at Family Research Council, commented to The Washington Stand, “It’s almost beyond imagining that” Meta is not aware of the exploitation of minors occurring on its platforms. He explained how, in the last couple years, Elon Musk has managed to take control of Twitter (now X) and clean up a fair amount of the obscenity that was on the app. As far as Gacek is concerned, if Musk is accomplishing this, Meta could do the same. “They can clean this up if they want to,” he said. “So if it’s there, they want it to be there.”
Gacek noted that part of Meta’s indifference about these accounts and the explicit content is because it’s a “mechanism by which they’re making money.” But there is also “this sort of an ideological contour map,” he added, that can contribute even more to the equation. As Gacek put it, what this investigation seems to navigate is that “Chloe Cole can’t be seen, but the pervs can.”
He concluded, “There [could be] hundreds of millions of people watching” or coming across “this stuff, right? I can’t believe there aren’t more people reporting these things.”
Sarah Holliday is a reporter at The Washington Stand.
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