Mark Zuckerberg addresses families at Senate child protection hearing
Mark Zuckerberg stood in the Senate gallery on Wednesday to directly address relatives of online child abuse victims, a first for a CEO of Meta and a unique addition to a morning filled with tense exchanges during a Judiciary Committee hearing on child protection. It was a moment.
Mr. Zuckerberg turned away from the bipartisan panel of senators and on behalf of family members, saying, “I'm sorry for what you all have gone through.” “No one should have to go through the things that your families have gone through.”
Mr. Zuckerberg said the company is continuing to work on the issue to prevent other families from going through similar experiences.
The moment came after a tense conversation with Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri. The senators pressed Mr. Zuckerberg on a number of issues, including what they said was Meta's failure to adequately act on what they called widespread child exploitation on several of the social media company's apps – Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger. And was described as abuse.
Mr Zuckerberg took the most questions from senators during the wide-ranging hearing on online child safety, in which the chief executives of X, Snap, Discord and TikTok also testified. They pressed him on topics including child sexual abuse material and whether he supported proposed legislation to stop it.
Mr. Zuckerberg has staunchly defended his company's actions, saying during the hearing that it had committed more than $20 billion to help secure the platform and hired thousands of employees.
But he also says that operating meta naturally means making trade-offs, attempting to maximize the good experiences – facilitating connections between friends, loved ones, celebrities and interests – and minimize the bad. . Senators questioning him emphasized that he should focus the company's efforts on doing a better job on the latter category.
Before Mr Zuckerberg addressed the gallery, Mr Hawley asked whether Meta would pay any remuneration to the families of dead children who suffered abuse on the platform, saying “your product is killing people.” Mr. Zuckerberg did not answer the question directly. Most of Mr Hawley's questions were directed at the chief executive.
“It's your job to be accountable for what your company has done,” Senator Hawley said before Zuckerberg stood up to address the room. “You have made billions of dollars from the people sitting here behind you. You've done nothing to help them, you've done nothing to compensate them, and you've done nothing to fix it. You can do that here today, and you should.”
After Mr. Zuckerberg spoke, family members in the Senate gallery remained silent.
Mary Roddy, a parent in the hearing room afterward, said she and other parents of victims were skeptical of Mr. Zuckerberg's comments. He said he has waited two years for Meta's response to the death of his son, who he said died by suicide in 2021 after being sexually abused on Facebook Messenger.
“Companies are not doing enough,” he said. “Enough is enough.”
cecilia kang Contributed reporting from Washington, DC