During a US Senate hearing, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg apologized to parents whose children have suffered harm from using the company’s online platforms.
The hearing, titled “Big Tech and the Online Child Sexual Exploitation Crisis,” saw tech leaders, including Zuckerberg, being grilled by lawmakers about the dangers children face on social media platforms.
In a surprising gesture, Zuckerberg expressed his remorse to the families present at the hearing, some of whom held up photos of their affected children.
He acknowledged the hardships they had endured and stated that no one should have to go through what their families have suffered.
US Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, who chairs the committee, pointed out that technology companies bear responsibility for the dangers children encounter online.
He criticized their design choices, lack of investment in trust and safety, and prioritization of engagement and profit over basic safety.
Senator Lindsey Graham accused Zuckerberg of inadvertently creating a product that is “killing people,” stating that he has blood on his hands.
Zuckerberg, in response, emphasized that keeping young people safe online has always been a challenge, and as criminals evolve, defenses must also evolve. Zuckerberg cited research indicating that, on balance, social media is not harmful to young people’s mental health.
TikTok CEO Chouzi Chew, also present at the hearing, expressed his commitment to investing over $2 billion in trust and safety measures and highlighted the 40,000 safety professionals working on this topic.
Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, announced measures to enhance online safety.
These include blocking direct messages from unknown individuals to young teens and tightening content restrictions related to topics like suicide, self-harm, and eating disorders.
This article was updated 3 weeks ago