Recent Congressional Big Tech Hearing – Lots Of Talk And Tears, But No Action
During a recent bipartisan Congressional hearing, United States senators questioned Big Tech CEO’s about the exploitation of children on social media. The CEOs Included Evan Spiegel, CEO of Snapchat; Shou Zi Chew, CEO of TikTok; Linda Yaccarino, CEO of X; and Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook & Instagram (Meta.) Mark Zuckerberg took it on the chin:
“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.
He was referring to the sexual exploitation of children, bullying, self-harm, depression, and even suicide attributed to social media platforms. And the failure of social media companies to monitor and prevent the abuse.
One of the concerns is an upswing in social media use among children ages 8 to 12, on platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook, even though these sites require users to be at least 13.
“You worry if it’s replacing activities, like sleep, family time, reading, chores – other things that are positive for kids,” renowned child psychiatrist Dr. Devorah Heitner said. “That’s definitely a real concern.”
Social media is a big reason teen depression has increased over the last decade. Surveys show that teen depressive symptoms and suicide showed exponential increases, especially among females.
Families and victims attended the hearing. There was crying and tears. The presence of so many parents in the room holding signs of their deceased children added a sense of urgency.
Senator Amy Klobuchar recounted the stories of parents whose children were harmed by social media platforms, including young people who committed suicide after being threatened by predators online.
“I’m so tired of this,” Klobuchar said. “It’s been 28 years … since the start of the internet. We haven’t passed any of these bills, because everyone’s ‘double talk, double talk.’ It’s time to actually pass them.”
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologized to the families who were in attendance.
“I’m sorry for everything you have all been through,” he said. “No one should go through the things that your families have suffered and this is why we invest so much and we are going to continue doing industry-wide efforts to make sure no one has to go through the things your families have had to suffer.”
Evan Spiegel also apologized to families whose children have died after they purchased drugs on Snapchat. “I’m so sorry that we have not been able to prevent these tragedies,” Spiegel said.
While the CEOs promised to take more aggressive action and institute more preventative actions, there is only so much the government can do before it will be accused of censorship and violating First Amendment rights.
This is the primary reason Congress hasn’t passed meaningful legislation to regulate social media companies, according to CNN Business.
The fear of government policing the internet is real, as witnessed by the FBI’s election interference on the Twitter Files. The best and only solution? Social media platforms need to do better policing.