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Updated February 1st, 2024 at 07:17 IST

'I'm Sorry For Everything,' Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg Apologises to Parents at Senate Hearing

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologised to parents and everyone who were present in the audience at a historic Senate hearing on online child safety.

From left; Discord CEO Jason Citron, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, X CEO Linda Yaccarino and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg
From left; Discord CEO Jason Citron, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, X CEO Linda Yaccarino and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg | Image:AP
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Washington DC – Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologised to parents and everyone who were present in the audience at a historic Senate hearing on online child safety. On Wednesday, lawmakers grilled Zuckerberg and the CEOs of social media platforms like TikTok, Discord, X and Snap at a hearing which was conducted by the US Senate Judiciary Committee, NBC News reported. During the hearing called “Big Tech and the Online Child Sexual Exploitation Crisis,” several parents claimed that social media platforms like Instagram contributed to their children's suicides or exploitation.

"I’m sorry for everything you’ve all gone through," Zuckerberg said after he was pressed by Senator Josh Hawley to apologise to the parents directly.  “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," he furthered. Meanwhile, Snap Inc. CEO Evan Spiegel followed the same suit and extended condolences to parents whose children were able to access illegal drugs by using Snapchat. “I’m so sorry that we have not been able to prevent these tragedies. We work very hard to block all search terms related to drugs on our platform,” Spiegel said. Parents of 60 children filed a lawsuit against Speigel accusing the social media giant of allegedly facilitating their children’s acquisitions of drugs that were used in overdose cases. 

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Parents held up photographs of their children

During the hearing, the parents held up photos of their children and the Senate continued to question the executives representing the tech giants. Many who were present at the gathering also wore blue ribbons that read “STOP Online Harms! Pass KOSA!” which referred to the Kids Online Safety Act, which would create a duty of care for social media companies. After the apology, Zuckerberg insisted that his company is working hard to tackle the issue of online harassment. ”This is why we invest so much and are going to continue doing industry-leading efforts to make sure that no one has to go through the types of things that your families have had to suffer," the Meta CEO told the parents. 

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TikTok's link to Xi administration garners attention

Meanwhile, TikTok CEO Shou Chew was grilled by the Senate committee multiple times over the company's connection to the Xi Jinping administration in China. In one instance Chew told Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton that it was “a coincidence” that he was appointed CEO of the platform a day after the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) China internet investment fund bought a 1% stake in ByteDance, the parent company of short video sharing platform. While Chew initially described the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing as a “massive protest," after being pressed on the matter, he admitted that it was a “massacre”. It is important to note that TikTok does not operate within China. However, its parent company ByteDance distributes an alternative app in the country called Douyin.  

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Published February 1st, 2024 at 07:17 IST

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