On Wednesday, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologized to parents and families at a Senate hearing on child safety on social media, who said their children were harmed by social media use. During the heated Senate Judiciary hearing on Capitol Hill, Zuckerberg, who owns social media platforms Facebook and Instagram, answered questions on the impact of social media on children.
The Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing called “Big Tech and the Online Child Sexual Exploitation Crisis” saw lawmakers grill Zuckerberg, as well as X CEO Linda Yaccarino, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, and Discord CEO Jason Citron. The hearing featured a video of children speaking about their experiences with online bullying, abuse and more. Families attended the hearing, some holding up photos of their children as senators questioned the CEOs. Many were also wearing blue ribbons that read, “STOP Online Harms! Pass KOSA!,” referring to the Kids Online Safety Act, which would create a duty of care for social media companies.
Committee chair Dick Durbin bashed the platforms for failing to protect children, and Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham told Zuckerberg that he had “blood on his hands” from a “product that’s killing people.”
When Zuckerberg was asked by Republican senator Josh Hawley if he would like to apologize to victims harmed by his product, the Meta CEO addressed families in attendance directly, saying: “I’m sorry for everything you have all been through. No one should go through the things that your families have suffered and this is why we invest so much and we are going to continue doing industry-wide efforts to make sure no one has to go through the things your families have had to suffer.”
Zuckerberg and the other social media CEOs touted their child safety procedures online. Meta has previously said that it has spent $5 billion on safety and security in 2023. The CEOs also said they would work with lawmakers, parents, nonprofits and law enforcement to protect minors. Zuckerberg declined to commit to Hawley’s suggestion that he set up a victim’s compensation fund.
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