Top 5 tech executives including Mater CEO Mark Zuckerberg and X CEO Linda Iaccarino spoke before the US Senate about growing concerns about children’s mental health and safety online.
They testified Wednesday in Washington. The heads of social media platforms Meta, X, TikTok, Discord, and Snapchat joined the hearing of the US Senate Judiciary Committee.
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.
In response to a question from Senator Mike Lee, who attended the hearing, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, ‘My understanding is that we do not approve sexual content for anyone.’ At this time, Senator Lee asked how it goes? Then everyone in that house burst into applause and laughter.
Zuckerberg said, ‘About 99 percent of these types of things are identified and removed by AI. I believe Meta is ahead of the curve.’ However, he claims that Google and Apple can play the most effective role in this regard.
“TikTok is basically being used as a means to destroy the Jewish state,” said Shou Ji Chiu, TikTok’s chief executive, citing content related to the Israel-Gaza conflict, citing a recent report by Senator Lindsey Graham about the resignation of a representative of TikTok in Israel.
“Pro-Hamas and anti-Semitic content is prohibited on the video-sharing platform,” Chew said.
Asked by a Republican senator whether TikTok had shared US user data with the Chinese government, Chew replied, “We have not been asked for any information by the Chinese government and we have never provided it.”
Earlier, the panel’s Democratic chairman Dick Durbin and Republican chairman Lindsey Graham said when announcing the plan, “Parents and children want to see action on this.”
In February 2023, the United States Senate Judiciary Committee convened a hearing on the same issue, where witnesses and legal experts who participated in the hearing agreed on the accountability of the companies.
Lawmakers have subsequently introduced several bills such as the ‘Kids Online Safety Act’ (KOSA), which recently received the support of messaging service Snapchat. The committee is likely to be particularly concerned about the sharing of nude images of children online, including fake images created using AI, according to the BBC report.
Top tech companies that have faced lawsuits over children’s accounts say they are working to fix the problem.
Microsoft and Google have created several tools to help social media identify such content and report it to the Child Protection Agency, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in the US. In addition, social media has also introduced several changes to increase child safety online.