July 18, 2024

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Mark Zuckerberg opposed banning plastic surgery filters, despite their alleged harm to teens, because it would be ‘paternalistic,’ lawsuit says

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Mark Zuckerberg vetoed a proposal at Meta Platforms Inc. to ban filters that simulate the effects of plastic surgery, despite concerns that the technology could harm girls’ mental health, according to a lawsuit by more than 30 US states.

The allegations about the filters, the number of users under the age of 13 and whether the company misrepresented the safety of its Facebook and Instagram platforms were detailed in a largely unredacted copy of the suit distributed Monday by California Attorney General Rob Bonta. The filters issue provides additional context for the alleged misconduct at the heart of the complaint, Bonta said.

The suit, initially filed in federal court in Oakland last month, added to growing scrutiny of social media giants over how they serve their youngest users. Meta has said it’s committed to keeping teens safe online and has introduced more than 30 tools to support youths and their families.

“Meta knows that what it is doing is bad for kids — period,” Bonta said in a statement. “Thanks to our unredacted federal complaint, it is now there in black and white, and it is damning.”

The company said in a statement that “while filters exist across every major social platform and smartphone camera, Meta bans those that directly promote cosmetic surgery, changes in skin color or extreme weight loss.” 

“We want teens to have safe, age-appropriate experiences online,” the Menlo Park, California-based company said. “We’ve spent a decade working on these issues and hiring people who have dedicated their careers to keeping young people safe and supported online.”

According to the lawsuit, in 2020, Zuckerberg, the company’s chief executive officer, was given internal memos on filters that detailed Meta’s consultation with independent experts “about the impact of these effects on body dysmorphia and eating disorders,” especially for teenage girls.

“The document reminded Meta’s senior leaders…

Anthony Aarons, Madlin Mekelburg, Bloomberg

2023-11-27 16:39:02

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