Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before a Senate Committee and apologized to parents of children who were harmed by social media apps. (Source: Adobe Stock)

Senate Questions Social Media CEOs on Child Safety and Mental Health

In a Senate hearing, top social media executives faced intense questioning about the mental health risks and exploitation of children on their platforms. The CEOs acknowledged shortcomings and highlighted efforts to address them, but also faced criticism for lobbying efforts that hindered federal legislation. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg offered a direct apology to families who had suffered due to the impact of their platforms on children.

The hearing aimed to generate support for federal legislation to protect children online. Concerns include the growing issue of child sexual exploitation online and the impact of social media on mental health. Senators raised concerns about these problems and issued a call for action.

While the CEOs emphasized steps taken to address these issues, Zuckerberg faced questions about the negative effects of Instagram on young girls’ mental health. Despite bipartisan consensus among senators, it remains unclear whether Congress will impose new regulations on social media platforms.

The hearing also marked the first time Snap’s CEO, Evan Spiegel, testified about allegations of harm caused by Snapchat. Spiegel expressed sorrow over the platform’s misuse and voiced support for the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA), which aims to hold social media companies accountable for harm caused on their platforms.

Legislative efforts to regulate children’s interactions with social media have been challenging at the federal level, leading some state legislators to introduce their own bills. Senators emphasized the need for cooperation from social media companies and expressed readiness to address the issue.

Here’s a video of part of the hearing:

While the CEOs indicated willingness to collaborate on legislation, they did not show consensus on specific bills, instead redirecting to their respective companies’ proposals. The hearing highlighted the complex challenges of addressing child exploitation and mental health concerns on social media platforms.