The world’s top technology leaders have come under fire for the security issue of children and teenagers on social media by participating in the US Senate hearing. The hearing, which took place on Wednesday local time, was hotly debated.
The hearing was attended by the heads of social media platforms Meta, X, TikTok, Discord, and Snapchat.
At the hearing, Meta Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Zuckerberg apologized to families who alleged that social media had harmed children. Addressing the victims’ families, he said, ‘What happened to them, no one should have to go through it.’
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.’
C. Senator Lindsey Graham addressed the CEO of Mater, Zuckerberg, said, “Your product is killing people.” 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.” Zuckerberg, however, 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.
Shao Ji Chiu said, ‘I myself have three children. As a father, I understand that what we are discussing today is terrible for a family and a nightmare for every parent.’
The TikTok CEO also said that his own three children do not use TikTok. This is because Shao Ji Chiu’s family lives in Singapore. There are restrictions on its use by children in the country.
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. Following this, several bills like the ‘Kids Online Safety Act’ (KOSA) have been raised by US lawmakers.