Home Culture Lawmakers Slam Social Media Giants for Failing to Protect Children

Lawmakers Slam Social Media Giants for Failing to Protect Children

photos: New York Post
photos: New York Post

Leaders of major social media companies faced a grilling before the US Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday as lawmakers sought answers on how the platforms are protecting children from harmful online content. The CEOs of Meta (formerly Facebook), TikTok, X (formerly Twitter), and Snapchat were summoned to Congress to address concerns about the negative impact of their platforms on children’s lives, including sexual exploitation, bullying, self-harm, and eating disorders.

Parents’ heart-wrenching testimonies about their children committing suicide due to cyberbullying or being exposed to explicit online content resonated throughout the hearing. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who owns Facebook and Instagram, expressed remorse, saying, “I’m sorry for everything you’ve all gone through. It’s terrible. No one should have to go through the things that your families have suffered.” He vowed to invest heavily in efforts to prevent such tragedies.

However, lawmakers were unsparing in their criticism of the social media bosses, accusing them of not doing enough to safeguard children from sexual predators, explicit content, bullying, and unrealistic beauty standards. Senator Lindsey Graham delivered a scathing rebuke, declaring, “Mr. Zuckerberg, you and the companies before us, I know you don’t mean it to be so, but you have blood on your hands. You have a product that’s killing people.”

X CEO Linda Yaccarino faced scrutiny over the platform’s responsibility for protecting minors. Yaccarino claimed that less than one percent of users on the former Twitter platform were minors and emphasized that X was a new company, though Twitter was established nearly two decades ago. She pledged to prioritize child protection and safety measures, acknowledging the need to enhance parental controls.

Committee members engaged in heated exchanges with the CEOs, holding them accountable for providing harmful and explicit content to children. Committee Chairman Senator Dick Durbin asserted, “They’re responsible for many of the dangers our children face online. Their design choices, their failures to adequately invest in trust and safety, their constant pursuit of engagement and profit over basic safety have all put our kids and grandkids at risk.”

Notably absent from the hearing was a representative from YouTube, despite it being the most widely used social media platform among kids. According to Pew Research Center, 93 percent of US teenagers use YouTube, surpassing TikTok by 30 percentage points.