Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Meta, apologizes to families during a heated US Senate session

In a contentious Senate testimony, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg expressed regret to families who said their kids had suffered from social media abuse. “No-one should go through” what they had to go through, Mr. Zuckerberg, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, stated to them. Senate members from both parties questioned him and the executives of TikTok, Snap, X, and Discord for nearly four hours. Legislators were curious about the steps being taken to safeguard minors on the internet. The US senators have a unique chance to grill tech executives.

 

In contrast to the executives of Snap, X (previously Twitter), and messaging app Discord, who first declined and received government-issued subpoenas, Mr. Zuckerberg and CEO of TikTok Shou Zi Chew willingly consented to testify. Families who claimed their children had killed themselves or self-harmed due to social media postings were seated behind the five internet executives. Throughout, they made it clear how they felt by cheering when lawmakers posed difficult questions and hissed when the CEOs arrived. The protection of minors from online sexual exploitation was the primary focus of the session, but the senators took advantage of the presence of five influential executives to ask a wide range of questions.

 

When questioned if TikTok, a startup owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, shared user data with the Chinese government, CEO Mr. Chew of TikTok responded negatively. Senator Tom Cotton of the United States questioned Mr. Chew, a Singaporean, about his membership in the Chinese Communist Party. “I’m from Singapore, Senator. No, Mr. Chew answered. “Have you ever been associated or affiliated with Chinese Communist Party?” inquired Republican Senator Josh Hawley. Mr. Chew answered, “Senator, no. I’m Singaporean once more.” Being a father of three small children, he continued, he was aware that the topics being discussed were “horrific and the nightmare of every parent”.

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