Former Facebook Employee Blows Whistle on Instagram’s Danger to Teens

Mark Zuckerberg frowning
Getty/Chip Somodevilla

A former senior employee at Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook (now known as Meta) says Instagram is not doing enough to protect teens from sexual harassment.

Arturo Béjar, who worked for Meta between 2009 and 2015, and again from 2019 to 2021, said part of his job was finding out ways to better protect people online, according to a report by BBC News.

While he thought the company was headed in the right direction when he left in 2015, Béjar reportedly realized there was a problem when he saw his daughter’s experience on Instagram.

Zuckerberg Meta Selfie

Mark Zuckerberg Meta Selfie (Facebook)

Béjar, who blew the whistle on Facebook and is testifying in front of Congress on Tuesday, told BBC that “shortly after she went on Instagram, she started getting unwanted sexual advances — misogyny, harassment at 14.”

“When we would talk about this… it turns out that all of her friends were experiencing the same. I was shocked. She said there was nothing [she] could do, because [she] had no option to report it,” he added.

The former director of engineering at Facebook says it would be “easy” for Facebook to create a button that would allow teens to flag messages as sexual advances.

“I can speak first hand about how easy it is to build a button and a counter,” he said. “I believe that the reason that they’re not doing this is because there’s no transparency about the harms that teenagers are experiencing on Instagram.”

A company spokesperson told BBC that it has created multiple features to protect teens.

“Every day countless people inside and outside of Meta are working on how to help keep young people safe online,” the company insisted, adding that it has introduced “over 30 tools” to work toward this goal.

But Béjar says these tools haven’t gone far enough, calling them a “placebo for press and regulators.”

“They’re not based on the data of what people are experiencing,” he said. “What you would expect to be able to ask them on this is, what percentage of teens experienced unwanted sexual advances?”

“If you go into [Instagram] messages, I could not find any option that says: this is an unwanted advance,” the former Facebook employee added.

As Breitbart News reported, Facebook is being sued by 42 U.S. states in multiple lawsuits accusing the tech giant of harming young people’s mental health with addictive Facebook and Instagram features.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and X/Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.


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