Social Media Executives Were In The Hot Seat On Capitol Hill This Week

CEOs from four Big Tech companies fielded questions from lawmakers. Social Media Executives Were In The Hot Seat On Capitol Hill This Week Shutterstock

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Big Tech has been the subject of serious concerns in recent years, and among the most pressing are those involving child safety.

A congressional hearing

The CEOs of four major social media companies — Meta, TikTok, Snapchat, and Discord — arrived in D.C. this week to face a barrage of questions from lawmakers regarding what their respective platforms are (or perhaps aren’t) doing to protect kids.

Perhaps the most poignant moment of the hearing came when Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) confronted Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg about the injuries and deaths of children negatively impacted by social media content. Meta-owned Instagram has faced criticism for allegedly allowing children under 13 to use the platform and potentially find harmful material.

Family members of some such children were present for the hearing, and Zuckerberg addressed them directly.

“No one should have to go through the things that your families have suffered, and this is why we invested so much,” he said.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew also fielded some tough questions. The most notable exchange might have been when he dismissed a question by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) regarding whether he had ties to the Chinese Communist Party by asserting that, despite the company’s headquarters in China, he is actually Singaporean.

Finding common ground

The CEOs joined lawmakers in both parties in expressing a desire to keep children safe online. But it’s unclear how much support tech companies will provide for a pair of bills currently being considered that, if passed, would allow them to be sued over the content available on their platforms.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) argued: “There’s no commission to go to that can punish you, there’s not one law in the book, because you oppose everything we do and you can’t be sued. That has to stop.”

Chris Agee
Chris Agee February 2nd, 2024
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