Facebook gets hit with another lawsuit seemingly every week over its treatment of young users, but the one filed recently by a South Carolina lawmaker is particularly devastating. State Rep. Brandon Guffey filed a lawsuit last week against Facebook for failing to protect minors, including his 17-year-old son who committed suicide after falling victim to a sextortion scam on Instagram.
Before his son’s death, scammers contacted the boy and convinced him he was talking to a girl his age. Then, after he was cajoled into sending nude photos, they began to blackmail him, demanding increasingly more and more money until he couldn’t take it anymore. And tragically, instances of sextortion involving underage victims are on the rise, with the FBI reporting a 20 percent increase from October 2022 to March 2023. That’s why Guffey is pressing to hold Facebook accountable for enabling these potentially life-threatening scams.
“Defendants (Meta) deliberately embedded in their products an array of design features aimed at maximizing youth engagement to drive advertising revenue,” the lawsuit said. “Despite knowing the impact its products would have on America’s youth, Meta still chose to target them in pursuit of profit. For these reasons, Meta is responsible for the unprecedented mental health crisis in America today.”
While this is just one of many lawsuits stacked up against Facebook, this is undeniably one of the most heartbreaking. Hopefully this sad story can inspire Facebook to make real, lasting change to its practices.
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