Sen. Josh Hawley Goes Scorched Earth on Zuckerberg, Forces Him to Apologize to Victims of App Sexual Exploitation

Sen. Josh Hawley Goes Scorched Earth on Zuckerberg, Forces Him to Apologize to Victims of App Sexual Exploitation

GOP Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri grilled Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg Wednesday at a congressional hearing regarding child safety on social media platforms.

Hawley even elicited an apology from Zuckerberg to family members of those who have been harmed through content on social media.

Meta is the parent company of Facebook and Instagram.

During the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Hawley, the former Missouri attorney general, first cited statistics he said were from a study conducted by Instagram.

The senator noted that the study found that among 13-15 year olds, 37 percent reported seeing unwanted nudity on the platform in the last seven days, while 24 percent said they had experienced unwanted sexual advances, and 17 percent had seen material promoting self-harm in the previous seven-day period.

Hawley next displayed the blow-up of an email, which included the statistics, which he said had been sent to Zuckerberg, according to a whistleblower.

“Who did you fire for this?” Hawley asked, in light of knowing this information. “Who got fired because of that?”

Zuckerberg answered the purpose of the study was to improve their services, which he said the company was doing.

“Do you know who’s sitting behind you? You’ve got families from across the nation, whose children are either severely harmed or gone, and you don’t think it’s appropriate to talk about steps that you took?” the senator questioned.

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“Have you compensated any of the victims?” Hawley asked.

“I don’t believe so,” Zuckerberg responded.

He then explained, “Our job, and what we take seriously, is making sure that we build industry-leading tools to find harmful content to take if off the services and to build tools that empower parents.”

Hawley countered Zuckerberg’s job appeared to be to “make money.”

“Let me ask you this,” Hawley pressed. “There are families of victims here today. Have you apologized to the victims? Would you like to do so now? They’re here. You’re on national television. Would you like now to apologize to the victims who have been harmed by your product?”

Zuckerberg stood up and turned around to face the family members in the room.

“I’m sorry for everything you have all been through,” Zuckerberg 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-leading efforts to make sure that no one has to go through the types of things your families have had to suffer,” he added.

Hawley then pressed Zuckerberg as to whether he would set up a victims’ compensation fund.

The Meta leader would not commit to that, responding, “These are complicated issues.”

Thirty-three states sued Meta in October, alleging the company intentionally targets children in a way that undermines their mental health.

Among other complaints, the 233-page complaint alleged that Meta “has harnessed powerful and unprecedented technologies to entice, engage, and ultimately ensnare youth and teens.”

CBS News reported that Meta previously said it spent $5 billion in 2023 on safety and security issues.

Other CEOs testifying at the hearing included X’s Linda Yaccarino, TikTok’s Shou Chew, Snap’s Evan Spiegel and Discord’s Jason Citron.

The Senate is considering passing legislation to address safety for children on social media. Proposed legislation includes the Kids Online Safety Act and the SHIELD Act, which both have bipartisan support.


This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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