Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other social media executives were grilled over the issue of child sexual exploitation on their platforms.
In a Wedesday hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the executives from Discord, Meta, Snap, TikTok and X were asked to explain the safety features of their respective apps.
“Mr. Zuckerberg, you and the companies before us … have blood on your hands. You have a product that’s killing people,” said committee ranking member Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
“These companies must be reined in, or the worst is yet to come,” he added.
Sen. Ted Cruz then shocked the audience, grilling Zuckerberg over Meta-owned Instagram connecting pedophiles with child sexual exploitation material – with the company even flagging certain content and then letting people continue on to it.
Ted Cruz just confronted Zuckerberg on the Instagram Wall Street Journal story that exposed that social media was connecting pedophiles with pizza code words and Instagram’s own algorithm was helping pedophiles find content.
When Ted showed Zuckerberg Instagram’s warning screen… pic.twitter.com/nTwf7LxkXz
— Green Lives Matter (@Ultrafrog17) January 31, 2024
Zuckerberg issued a rare apology to the families and parents of children who have been harmed by his platforms.
“I’m sorry for everything you have all been through,” he said, awkwardly. “No one should go through the things that your families have suffered, and this is why we invest so much, and we are going to continue doing industry-wide efforts to make sure no one has to go through the things your families have had to suffer.”
The day before the hearing, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a floor speech that the focus of the hearing was on how technology has failed to protect children from sexual exploitation online – calling on fellow senators to support a legislative proposal, the Strengthening Transparency and Obligations to Protect Children Suffering from Abuse and Mistreatment Act of 2023 (STOP CSAM Act).
It would provide support for victims, enhance accountability, and increase transparency for online platforms.
More via the Epoch Times;
In the committee’s introduction to the hearing, Mr. Durbin also referenced previous warnings about social media from The National Center on Sexual Exploitation. Five tech companies, including social media platforms Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Roblox, and Reddit, were included on its annual “Dirty Dozen“ list for their alleged roles in facilitating child sexual exploitation.
In his speech, Mr. Durbin highlighted reports of offenders using these platforms to target children and trade child sexual abuse material. He also stressed the importance of holding these tech companies accountable for the harm inflicted upon children and urged his fellow senators to demand answers during the hearing.
The lawmaker concluded his speech by urging Congress to update Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which currently shields the tech industry from accountability. He argued that adapting the law is essential to hold tech companies responsible for their actions and to protect children from exploitation.
Mr. Durbin also reaffirmed his commitment to working towards legislation that safeguards children and holds the tech industry accountable for its role in child exploitation.
“Everyone needs to do their part to stop this gross injustice, and that includes Congress finally enacting legislation that holds the tech industry accountable when it fails to protect children,“ Mr. Durbin said. ”That is why the Judiciary Committee will hold its landmark hearing tomorrow. And it is why I will continue working to bring the STOP CSAM Act and other critical bills that would protect our kids to the Senate floor.”
‘We’re Gonna Die Waiting’
Mr. Graham questioned Discord’s CEO about his support for the STOP CSAM Act and each of the other bipartisan bills before the committee, but on each occasion, the executive was unwilling to offer support.
“If you wait on these guys to solve the problem, we’re gonna die waiting,” Mr. Graham said after questioning executives about the legislation.
During her opening statements, Linda Yaccarino, the CEO of X, expressed support for the STOP CSAM Act. However, when later questioned by Mr. Durbin about supporting other pieces of legislation, she was unable to confirm her company’s support.
Near the end of his questioning, Mr. Graham again reiterated his frustration with the social platforms and their leadership, saying: “I am tired of talking. I’m tired of having discussions. We all know the answer here … Stand behind your product. Go to the American courtroom and defend your practices. Open up the courthouse door. Until you do that, nothing will change. These people can be sued for the damage they’re doing.”
The lawmaker said he believes that Americans who have been wronged due to social media platforms’ efforts to further their business should have “somebody to go to to complain.”
“There is no commission to go to that can punish you. There’s not one law in the book because you oppose everything we do, and you can’t be sued. That has to stop folks … Because for all the upside [of social media] the dark side is too great to live with. We do not need to live this way as Americans.”