“I’m Sorry,” Zuckerberg Says to Victims’ Parents

“I’m Sorry,” Zuckerberg Says to Victims’ Parents

Source Node: 2466179

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has testified before Congress, where he apologized to families of children who suffered online abuse, including on Meta’s platforms.

This followed a hearing where the Senate Judiciary Committee grilled the CEOs of five big tech companies in what was dubbed the “Big Tech and the Online Child Sexual Exploitation Crisis.”

For Zuckerberg, who has appeared before the Senate eight times, this was different as he gave an apology to families of kids that have battled the negative effects of social media, such as addiction and depression, with some eventually dying.

A forced apology?

During questioning, Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri told the tech guru that the families of the affected children were in attendance before asking him if he would like to apologize to them.

“Have you apologized to the victims? Would you like to do so now? … They’re here. You’re on national television,” said Sen. Hawley.

In response, Zuckerberg faced the crowd, saying, “I’m sorry for everything you have all been through.”

“No one should have to go through the things that your families have suffered, and this is why we invested so much and are going to continue doing industry-leading efforts to make sure that no one has to go through the types of things that your families had to suffer,” added Zuckerberg.

Sen. Hawley took it further, asking Zuckerberg if he would take the responsibility to compensate families in his personal capacity.

“Will you set up a victims’ compensation fund? With your money? The money you made on these families sitting behind you? Yes or no?” questioned the senator before interpreting Zuckerberg’s answer as a “no.”

Also read: China Accelerates AI Integration with Over 40 Newly Approved Models

Other CEOs on the grill

It wasn’t Zuckerberg alone who was on the grill before the Senate. X, formerly Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, and Discord leaders, were also present for questioning.

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel, who also went under questioning, also issued an apology to the families of victims of their platforms. Some kids lost their lives after purchasing drugs via Snapchat.

“I’m so sorry that we have not been able to prevent these tragedies,” said Spiegel before outlining what the company planned to do to protect young users.

As for X, its CEO, Linda Yaccarino, took to the platform, promising to make it safer for users and tackle child sexual exploitation (CSE).

“We’ve also strengthened our enforcement with more tools and technology to prevent bad actors from distributing, searching for, or engaging with CSE content across all forms of media,” she said in a blog post.

The platform has recently been flooded with AI-generated X-rated images of pop singer Taylor Swift, which went viral.

Parents not happy with “fake” apologies

Parents of victims who were at the hearing felt the CEOs’ apologies were not real, but they were paying lip service.

One of the parents, Bridgette Norring, whose son died following an accidental fentanyl overdose after ordering the pill off Snapchat, described the apology from Spiegel as “fake.”

“It lacked any heart,” Norring told CNN after the hearing wrapped on Wednesday afternoon. “I think he could have done better in his apology to us.”

She further said it was frustrating to hear the tech leaders defend themselves without an ounce of remorse.

Nothing but excuses

Senators concurred with parents and blasted the tech CEOs following the Wednesday hearing. Massachusetts Democratic Senator Ed Markey said the tech firms had nothing else to offer except for excuses.

“Their CEOs showed up today with even more excuses. It was outrageous,” he said.

“An apology by Mark Zuckerberg is not enough,” he said. “We need action. We need laws. We need protection. We’re fed up with apologies.”

Senator Markey pioneered the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which prohibits the collection of under-13 kids’ data. He made a call to other lawmakers to update the piece of regulation to include protections for teens.

Policing the social media platforms

While calls have been made to toughen up restrictions to protect children, the lawmakers have also admitted that it is difficult to hold the social media platforms accountable for what users post.

According to CNN, a federal law, “Section 230,” compounds the challenge as it holds that companies “cannot be held liable for the content that users post to their platforms.”

But on Wednesday, Jan. 31, lawmakers clamored for a repeal of the law, which has been criticized by both Republicans and Democrats.

Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said she was fed up with the lack of meaningful action against the tech firms.

“Open up the courthouse door. Until you do that, nothing will change. Until these people can be sued for the damage they’re doing, it is all talk,” said Senator Graham.

Despite enhancing connectivity across the world, tech firms have been found wanting recently, with a spike in child sexual exploitation on their platforms. Calls have been made for laws that protect users’ safety, privacy, and moderation of content on platforms.

Time Stamp:

More from MetaNews