Meta Faces EU Scrutiny Over Child-Harming Algorithm Concerns

(IntegrityTimes.com) – The European Union has launched a new investigation into Meta over allegations that the company failed to safeguard children. The claims partly relate to the allegedly addictive algorithms on Meta’s Facebook and Instagram platforms. The European Commission revealed its concerns that its Digital Services Act, which moderates online content, had been violated by the company’s platforms. Meta is accused of gathering too much data from Facebook and Instagram users who are underage, and of using “rabbit-holes” to stimulate addictive behavior in children.

The E.U. will also look into how the platforms recommend children content and whether the company does enough to verify the ages of users. The so-called rabbit-hole effects referred to by the E.U. relate to harmful content viewed by users that results in algorithms recommending more of it. E.U. Commissioner Thierry Breton said on X that Meta had fallen short of complying with DSA obligations to limit the harmful effects of its platforms on the health of young Europeans.

Meta is already facing an E.U. probe regarding political “disinformation” that includes an alleged Russian influence campaign. E.C. President Ursula von der Leyen raised concerns about foreign countries influencing democratic elections in the bloc. One E.U. official commented that it was clearly too easy on Meta’s platforms to circumvent safety controls regarding age verification. The Chinese-owned TikTok platform is facing a similar E.U. investigation into its alleged addictiveness and failures to sufficiently protect children.

Investigations can result in penalties of up to 6% of the annual global revenue of a company if the E.C. finds that it has violated the DSA. Meta spokesman Ben Walters stated that the company wants young users to have age-appropriate and safe online experiences. He stressed that the company had spent ten years working on over 50 policies and tools used to protect minors. Walters acknowledged that this was a challenge faced by the whole industry, and said the company looked forward to sharing information on its work with the E.C..

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