Mark Zuckerberg, Meta CEO, offers apologies to families during intense US Senate hearing


During a heated hearing in the US Senate, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologized to families who claimed that their children had been harmed by social media. Zuckerberg, along with the CEOs of TikTok, Snap, X, and Discord, faced questioning from senators about their efforts to protect children online. The hearing provided a rare opportunity for lawmakers to interrogate tech executives, with Zuckerberg and TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew voluntarily testifying while the heads of Snap, X, and Discord initially refused and were issued subpoenas. Families affected by social media content sat behind the tech bosses during the hearing, expressing their dissatisfaction with hissing and applause. While the focus of the hearing was primarily on protecting children from online sexual exploitation, senators asked a wide range of questions to take advantage of having five powerful executives under oath. TikTok’s Chew denied allegations that the company shared US users’ data with the Chinese government. Zuckerberg faced the most scrutiny during the hearing, particularly when Republican Senator Ted Cruz questioned him about an Instagram prompt related to child sexual abuse material. Zuckerberg defended the prompt, stating that it aimed to direct users towards helpful resources rather than simply blocking them. He also promised to personally investigate the matter. In another exchange, Zuckerberg apologized to the families sitting behind him after being prompted by Republican Senator Josh Hawley. The hearing also focused on the companies’ attitudes towards legislation in Congress that seeks to hold them accountable for content posted on their platforms. Despite bipartisan agreement on the need for regulation, it remains unclear what actions will be taken following the hearing. The CEOs also disclosed the number of content moderators employed by their platforms, with Meta and TikTok having 40,000 each, Snap having 2,300, X having 2,000, and Discord having “hundreds.” Following the hearing, parents staged a rally outside, urging lawmakers to pass legislation to hold firms accountable for the harms caused by social media.

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