Washington, Jan 31 (EFE).- Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday apologized to a group of parents who say social media has failed to protect children from sexual predators, but denied that its use is harming children’s mental health during his testimony at a US Senate hearing.
During the session, the CEOs of Snap, X (formerly Twitter), Discord, and TikTok also testified about their efforts to combat sexual harassment and child sex targeting on their platforms.
Zuckerberg defended Meta against abuse allegations, highlighting the lack of scientific evidence linking social media use to mental health issues.
“A recent report from the National Academies of Sciences evaluated results from more than 300 studies and determined that the research ‘did not support the conclusion that social media causes changes in adolescent mental health,’” he said.
The aforementioned was a statement that caused a stir among the audience, including relatives of victims of social media bullying.
“I’m sorry for everything you have all been through,” the Meta leader said, adding that “no one should go through the things that your families have suffered.”
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham told social media CEOs, “You have blood on your hands” because social media is “destroying lives, threatening democracy itself.”
All five witnesses acknowledged their responsibility to keep their respective communities safe, and said they were open to working on the issues and engaging with lawmakers to improve and protect their users.
Nevertheless, when asked about their support for the bills being pushed none gave a clear answer.
“If you’re waiting on these guys to solve the problem, we’re gonna die waiting,” Graham said.
On behalf of X (formerly Twitter), the company’s executive director Linda Yaccarino argued that “less than 1% of the US users on X are between the ages of 13 and 17.”
TikTok’s CEO, Shou Chew, pointed out that he intends to invest “more than 2 billion dollars this year” in protecting children and other users. Todo so, he has 40,000 professionals in this field, including child safety specialists.
Discord CEO Jason Citron explained that they use artificial intelligence to detect criminals on their network.
“We also proactively scan for known child sexual abuse material, drug-related content, and other types of harmful content, remove that content, deactivate and device-block offending accounts, preserve the evidence for law enforcement, and report certain content to the relevant authorities,” Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel said.
However, several child safety bills are pending in Congress, including the Stop CSAM Act, which aims to crack down on the distribution of child sexual abuse material online, support victims, and increase platform accountability.
“If child safety policies were working, we wouldn’t be here today,” concluded Democratic Senator Richard Durbin.EFE