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Senate Hearing Delves into Consequences of Dangerous Products as Zuckerberg and CEOs Testify

If you love the smell of napalm in the morning, you’ll love this smell, too: US senators grilled tech CEOs and Mark Zuckerberg specifically.

At a Wednesday Senate hearing, lawmakers discussed how social media platforms are failing to protect children from escalating threats of sexual predation on their networks and urged Congress to pass legislation (via Reuters).

That’s the latest effort by lawmakers to address the concerns of parents and mental health experts that social media companies prioritize profits over making sure their products are safe for children.

The hearing brought together Meta (Facebook, Instagram) CEO Mark Zuckerberg, X/Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew and Discord CEO Jason Citron to testify.

Senator Lindsey Graham confronted Zuckerberg directly, but didn’t leave his colleagues out of it as well:

“Mr. Zuckerberg, you and the companies before us, I know you don’t mean it to be so, but you have blood on your hands”, said Senator Lindsey Graham and added: “You have a product that’s killing people”. That last part is a bit ironic, given one of Lindsey Graham’s latest tweets, but let’s not digress.

“This disturbing growth in child sexual exploitation is driven by one thing: changes in technology”, says Senator Dick Durbin during the hearing. Durbin, being the Judiciary Committee’s Democratic chairman, cited statistics from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children nonprofit group that showed skyrocketing growth in financial “sextortion” – the malevolent act in which a predator tricks a minor into sending explicit photos and videos.

As the hearing kicked off, the committee played a video in which children spoke about being victimized on social media.

“I was sexually exploited on Facebook,” said one child in the video, who appeared in shadow.

Parents of kids who were harmed due to social media were present at the Senate hearing. They held pictures of their children and some jeered Zuckerberg during his statement and interrupted him with shouts.

Zuckerberg expressed regret about what they had experienced and pledged to work to prevent it from happening to others, but stopped short of taking responsibility for facilitating the abuse.

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