mark zuckerberg apology

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‘I’m sorry for everything’: Senator pushes Zuckerberg to apologize to victims’ families for Facebook’s role in child exploitation

Zuckerberg was prompted by Josh Hawley.

 

Tricia Crimmins

Tech

Posted on Jan 31, 2024   Updated on Jan 31, 2024, 12:45 pm CST

At a Senate Judiciary hearing about online sexual exploitation, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressed the families of victims in attendance, apologizing for the tech company’s role.

“No one should have to go through the things that your families have suffered,” he said.

The Senate Judiciary Committee is questioning the leaders of popular social media platforms like TikTok, Discord, Snap, and Meta (Facebook and Instagram) today on Capitol Hill about child sexual exploration as a result of social media.

When asked by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) if he’d like to apologize to the victims of families harmed by Meta’s products, Zuckerberg turned around in his seat toward those watching the hearing and stood up to address them.

Multiple families of children who died by suicide after facing abuse on Instagram “audibly hissed” at Zuckerberg when he entered the hearing this morning. When he spoke to them, many of the family members held up photos of their deceased children.

“They’re here, you’re on national television, would you like to?” Hawley prompted Zuckerberg.

“I’m sorry for everything you have all been through. No one should go through the things that your families have suffered,” Zuckerberg said. “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.”

Other senators on the Judiciary Committee laid into Zuckerberg, too. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) asked Zuckerberg “what were you thinking?” when referring to a warning that precedes child sexual abuse material that allows Meta users to either “get resources” or see the content.

Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) told Zuckerberg that Meta’s product are “killing people.”

Zuckerberg said he takes the subject of child sexual exploitation and social media’s effect on mental health “very seriously.”

Each of the tech executives that testified today were asked if they support the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA), which obligates social media sites to work to combat dangers to minors online, like encouraging self-harm, suicide, eating disorders, substance abuse, and exploitation.

Zuckerberg did not commit to supporting the bill, which has faced criticism from leading online advocates.

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*First Published: Jan 31, 2024, 12:44 pm CST