Meta Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Zuckerberg has apologized to families who have alleged that children have been harmed by the social media platform Facebook. Addressing the victims’ families, he said, ‘What happened to them, no one should have to go through it.’
The world’s top technology leaders came under fire on the issue of children and teenagers’ safety on social media after participating in the US Senate hearing. The hearing, which took place on Wednesday local time, was hotly debated. BBC reported that Zuckerberg apologized at that time.
The hearing was attended by the heads of social media platforms Meta, X, TikTok, Discord, and Snapchat.
Big tech companies aren’t doing enough to protect children from online sexual harassment, US senators say. They want to introduce stricter laws. Besides, they demanded an explanation from the executives regarding the steps taken so far.
At the hearing, US Senate Whip Dick Durbin said, ‘They are responsible for the dangers our children face online.’
“Your product is killing people,” C Senator Lindsey Graham told Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Meta.
At one point in the hearing, Republican Senator Ted Cruz showed Zuckerberg an Instagram prompt. Users are warned about viewing child sexual abuse content there. But it also asks, ‘Do you still want to see the results?’ Ted Cruz wants to know about this, what did you (Zuckerberg) think about it?’
In response, Zuckerberg said, “The main reason behind this is to direct them (users) to something that might be helpful instead of blocking them outright.” However, Zuckerberg promised to look into the matter personally.
The CEO of TikTok was asked whether his company shared the information of US users with the Chinese government. In response, Shao Ji Chiu denied the allegations.
In February 2023, the United States Senate Judiciary Committee convened a hearing on the same issue, where witnesses and lawyers who participated in the hearing agreed on the companies’ accountability. Following this, several bills like the ‘Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA)’ have been raised by US legislators.