Former Meta employee alleges company ignored teen harms

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A former Meta employee testified before a U.S. Senate subcommittee, alleging that the company was aware of harassment and other harms facing teens on its platforms but failed to address them.

The employee, Arturo Bejar, said in written remarks made available before the hearing that he worked on well-being for Instagram from 2019 to 2021 and earlier was a director of engineering for Facebook’s Protect and Care team from 2009 to 2015.

Bejar told senators he met regularly with senior executives at the company, including Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, and considered them supportive of the work at the time. However, he concluded subsequently that the executives had decided “time and time again to not tackle this issue,” he testified.

Bejar said in one 2021 email, he flagged to Zuckerberg and other top executives internal data revealing that 51% of Instagram users had reported having a bad or harmful experience on the platform in the past seven days. Among that group, 24.4% of the children aged 13-15 had reported receiving unwanted sexual advances.

He also told the executives that his own 16-year-old daughter had been sent misogynistic comments and obscene photos, without adequate tools to report those experiences to the company.

In his testimony, Bejar recounted that in one meeting Meta Chief Product Officer Chris Cox was able to cite precise statistics on teen harms off the top of his head.

“I found it heartbreaking because it meant that they knew and that they were not acting on it,” said Bejar.

The sources for this piece include an article in Reuters.

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