The European Union (EU) has warned Meta Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to take immediate action on protecting kids on Instagram or face "heavy sanctions".
The warning came after reports emailed that Instagram's recommendation algorithms are allegedly promoting networks of pedophiles who commission and sell child sexual abuse content on the popular image sharing platform.
The Wall Street Journal worked with researchers at Stanford University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst to undercover and expose such a network of Instagram accounts.
In a tweet, the EU's internal market commissioner, Thierry Breton, said the company's "voluntary code on child protection seems not to work".
"Mark Zuckerberg must now explain and take immediate action. I will discuss with him at Meta's HQ in Menlo Park on June 23,a he said in the tweet.
After August 25, under the Digital Services Act (DSA), "Meta has to demonstrate measures to us or face heavy sanctions," he added.
The penalty for non-compliance with the DSA, regarding the failure to curb the spread of child sexual abuse material (CSAM), can scale up to 6 per cent of the social media company's global annual turnover.
According to the WSJ report, Instagram "helps connect and promote a vast network of accounts openly devoted to the commission and purchase of underage-sex content".
The investigators found "128 accounts offering to sell child-sex-abuse material on Twitter, less than a third the number they found on Instagram".
Meta told the Journal that it had failed to act on these reports and that "it was reviewing its internal processes".
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