(Missouri News Service) – A contentious congressional hearing on Wednesday unanimously called for regulations on social media, with a focus on protecting children.
U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) pressed Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg to apologize to the families of child victims who suffered due to social media’s negative impacts, including exploitation, harm, and death.
The CEOs of Meta, X (formerly known as Twitter), TikTok, Discord, and Snap were present at the hearing. Under Hawley’s questioning, Zuckerberg and Snap’s CEO, Evan Spiegel, issued apologies for the first time.
“Would you like to do so now? Well, they’re here, you’re on national television,” Hawley challenged. “Would you like to now apologize to the victims who have been harmed by your products? Show them the pictures. Would you like to apologize for what you’ve done to these good people?”
Zuckerberg then turned, stood, and faced the audience, saying, “I’m sorry for everything you have all been through. No one should endure what your families have suffered, and this is why we invest so much and will continue our industry-wide efforts to ensure no one has to suffer as your families have.”
Some victims’ families expressed skepticism about the sincerity of the apologies.
Congress members expressed their hope to establish common ground to enact laws aimed at making the Internet safer. Senator Jon Ossoff (D-GA) repeatedly urged social media executives to consider the victims and acknowledge the risks associated with online activities.
“We want to work in a productive, open, honest, and collaborative way to pass legislation that will protect American children above all,” Ossoff stated. “If we don’t start with an open, honest, candid, realistic assessment of the issues, we can’t achieve this if you’re not willing to recognize that the internet can be a dangerous place for children.”
Earlier in the week, explicit deep-fake artificial intelligence images of pop icon Taylor Swift were released on X.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre announced that legislation is the clear solution to address these types of offenses.