The Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing on child online safety concluded after nearly four hours of tense exchanges between senators and tech executives. Despite the intense questioning, no clear resolution was reached. The audience included relatives of victims, who cheered the senators and listened stoically to Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, when he addressed the crowd directly.
The senators were aggressive in their questions and refused to back down, pressuring executives from Meta, Twitter, TikTok, Discord, and Snap to take responsibility for their companies’ role in harming children. At times, senators shouted and interrupted executives, prompting applause from those in attendance. Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, noted that the companies had “blood on their hands.”
Zuckerberg addressed the families of the victims and apologized for their suffering. He stated that his company was working to prevent further harm but did not address Meta’s role in the incidents.
Executives from Meta, Snap, Discord, Twitter, and TikTok were summoned to testify, with Zuckerberg and Shou Chew, CEO of TikTok, receiving the most attention. The leaders of Meta and TikTok faced criticism for the incidents of abuse on their platforms. Two of the five CEOs agreed to support the Child Online Safety Act, while others were noncommittal, citing concerns about free speech issues.
TikTok CEO, Shou Chew, faced questions about the company’s ties to the Chinese government, as ByteDance, the owner of TikTok, has Chinese owners. Chew was asked about his connections to China and the progress of TikTok’s plan to protect U.S. users’ sensitive data.
Despite years of debate and public criticism of big tech companies, Congress has not passed any meaningful legislation to address online child safety. The hearing concluded without a clear resolution, leaving the issue unresolved.
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News, Technology, Children’s Safety