4 Your Kids: New Mexico AG discusses online safety efforts

4 Your Kids: New Mexico AG discusses online safety efforts

Keeping kids safe online isn't just a parent's job, it's up to our lawmakers and elected officials as well. New Mexico Attorney General Raul Torrez sat down with us to discuss what his office is doing and tips they have for parents.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Children are no strangers to social media and the New Mexico Department of Justice focused on this in their lawsuit against Meta Platforms.

“Meta has known for quite some time that this has become a breeding ground for people who are preying on children. And we are trying fundamentally to shut that marketplace down,” New Mexico Attorney General Raul Torrez said.

Torrez’s office at the NMDOJ investigated the social media giant, using decoy accounts posing as children under age 14 on Facebook and Instagram.

Their findings allegedly show what children face with just a tap of a finger.

“Her account was flooded, absolutely flooded with sexually explicit images, requests for, you know, interactions and content,” Torrez said.

Investigators say they found these interactions led them to unmoderated groups. These groups allegedly encouraged the decoys to get involved in online prostitution.

“There have been recent revelations about parents trying to turn their children into influencers, and the ability to create private chat rooms and get exclusive content. That’s another thing that I think we’re going to be looking very carefully. We’ve asked Meta to provide new information about that,” Torrez said.

A Meta spokesperson reiterated a commitment to “safe, positive experiences online” for teens.

Last month, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced families in a heated U.S. Senate hearing on child exploitation.

“This is why we invested so much. We are going to continue industry-leading efforts to make sure that no one has to go through the type of things that your families have had to suffer,” Zuckerberg said.

“They’ve demonstrated that they are unwilling or unable to redesign their platform and change their business practices. And so if they can’t do it on their own, then we will certainly get to the same objective by filing these types of lawsuits,” Torrez rebutted.

The lawsuit is making its way through the courts. Torrez says it will take time to resolve but prevention starts at home.

“What kind of communication needs to take place between parents and children? How can you know if they’re sharing too much on online gaming platforms or social media?” Torrez said. “Think what that comes down to is this misunderstanding of the nature of the harm and the nature of the danger, I don’t think most parents understand that when they give their child a cell phone, they’re actually giving them potentially the opportunity for someone very dangerous to have access to their loved one.”

According to the NMDOJ, you can also develop an online safety plan with your kids. They say to establish clear guidelines to spot the red flags. They also recommend adjusting your privacy settings and parental controls.

Lastly, tell your children to never share personal information, photos and videos online. All of that lives permanently online.