LONDON, May 17, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — A coalition of children’s charities and survivors of child sex abuse will send an open letter to Meta’s major shareholders ahead of the company’s AGM next week [May 26]. This will ask shareholders to “use your voice” to stop social media platforms becoming hiding places for child sex abusers.
The letter has received global support, with signatories including survivors of child sexual abuse and charities such as the NSPCC, IWF, Be Brave Movement, and US Investor group Proxy Impact.
It comes from the No Place to Hide Campaign, which asks that a further rollout of end-to-end encryption (E2EE) is accompanied by safety measures so that child sex abusers can still be detected.
A record 29.3m items of child abuse imagery were found and removed across the internet in 2021, with 22m reported from Facebook alone. However, there are concerns that under E2EE, this will no longer happen.
The letter asks shareholders: “Please use your voice to help us to make sure Meta does not turn the lights out on its ability to detect and prevent child sex abuse. No risk can ever be fully eliminated. But children, their parents, and survivors of child sexual abuse want to know that your company is doing everything it can to prevent child sexual abuse. It is time to stop presenting this as a binary choice between children’s safety and user privacy and, instead, work constructively together at ways to protect both.”
It will be sent to key investors like BlackRock and Vanguard, asking them to consider the impact on their reputation if changes make it harder to stop child sex abusers. Landmark draft EU legislation [last week/ on 11th May] could require companies like Meta to detect, remove and report illegal images of abuse or be fined.
Michael Passoff, CEO of Proxy Impact is supporting the campaign:
“Shareholders are not opposed to encryption but believe companies should apply this technology in a way that will not pose additional threats to children. Our 2021 shareholder resolution at Meta garnered the support of nearly 980 million shares worth about $321 billion in stock and represented 56% of the non-Zuckerberg controlled vote.”
Rhiannon-Faye McDonald, a survivor and member of the Marie Collins Foundation said:
“I hope that shareholders will be more open to hearing our concerns, many of them will have children, nephews, nieces and grandchildren – so my plea is for them to be our allies and help us protect children online”