Social media giant Meta — owner of Instagram and Facebook — is taking steps to discourage kids from sending and receiving nude photos on Instagram.

The Wall Street Journal reports,

These images, real or fake, can cause emotional anguish, schoolwide humiliation and even financial harm. In recent months, “sextortion” scams have ensnared thousands of teenage boys across the U.S. Sending sexual images of minors is also a crime.

Instagram users who receive nude images via direct messages will see a pop-up explaining how to block the sender or report the chat, and a note encouraging the recipient not to feel pressure to respond. People who attempt to send a nude via direct messages will be advised to be cautious and receive a reminder that they can unsend a pic. . . .

Meta doesn’t have plans to roll out the warnings to its other apps, such as WhatsApp and [Facebook] Messenger.

Teen sexting is a serious problem. As our friends at Daily Citizen note,

2019 study of 54 million text messages and 1.5 million hours of phone usage by the parenting software Jiminy found one in three teens will ask for nude photos.

An astounding 24% of children studied had either sent or received a nude photo by the tender age of 13.

Sending such personal photos — both real and fake — exposes children to physical and emotional danger. Compromising photos can be shared and leaked among peers, causing humiliation, shame, embarrassment, blackmail, and even suicide.

Stories like this remind us why last year Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin’s office filed a lawsuit against Meta in Polk County Circuit Court. The lawsuit alleges Facebook permits content that sexualizes children and that the platform itself is designed and structured “to exploit multiple neuropsychological traits in youth.”

The lawsuit says that, “youth mental health problems have advanced in lockstep with the growth of social media platforms that have been deliberately designed to attract and addict youth by amplifying harmful material, dosing users with dopamine hits, and thereby driving youth engagement and advertising revenue.”

The lawsuit goes on to allege that Meta violated Arkansas’ Deceptive Trade Practices Act by designing and marketing “dangerous social media platforms that have injured the health, comfort, and repose of the State’s community” and fueled the current youth mental health crisis.

The A.G.’s complaint against Meta concludes by asking the court to stop Meta’s actions and award the state up to $10,000 per violation of the Arkansas Deceptive Trade Practices Act in accordance with state law.

Articles appearing on this website are written with the aid of Family Council’s researchers and writers.