USA – Six U.S. senators on Tuesday wrote to Meta Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to urge him to prevent its platforms, such as Facebook and WhatsApp, from being used to facilitate drug and human trafficking, especially in Latin America.

The open advertising of human smuggling and drug trafficking services and the prevalence of misinformation about the U.S. immigration system on Facebook contribute to transnational crime in the region and the challenges the United States experiences at its border” with Mexico, the congressmen assert.

The amplification of these activities by Facebook’s own algorithm only exacerbates these challenges,” they add.

In the letter to Zuckerberg, the senators cite the findings of several investigations into the company’s “wholly inadequate” content control and moderation mechanisms.

They cite internal documents published by the Wall Street Journal revealing that the Jalisco Cartel – New Generation “openly recruited, trained and paid hitmen using Meta’s platforms, and that even when Meta was aware of these activities, it failed to completely eliminate the cartel from its platforms.”

And Tech Transparency Project has documented – they add – how human traffickers “openly use Facebook to exploit migrants” by publicizing their services, for example to cross the border, in “often monetized” posts.

The congressmen reproach Meta for not having stopped or deleted all this information after being notified and despite the company’s acknowledgment that these activities “violate its community standards”.

Previous reports, they note, “have found that drug cartels in Latin America and the Caribbean extensively use Meta’s platforms to traffic drugs, recruit members and traffickers, extort victims, and publish blacklists,” the senators wrote.

Meta has an obligation to address these challenges,” they believe, and ask to be informed of the steps the company is willing to take.

It is imperative that Meta take seriously the emerging roles of Facebook and WhatsApp as tools used to support” illicit operations in developing countries, but which “also significantly and adversely affect US national interests,” they argue.

In December 2021, the Drug Enforcement Agency announced that Mexican drug cartels “are using Meta’s platforms to flood our country with fentanyl,” a synthetic opioid that caused 107,622 deaths from poisoning or overdoses that year in the United States, the senators recall.

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