On January 31, the CEOs of X, Meta, TikTok and additional social media companies testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee. The testimony was regarding concerns the Senate had over social media companies not doing enough in order to protect children from things such as sexual predators, suicide, eating disorders, addictive features, bullying and unrealistic beauty standards.
The initial stages of the hearing included recorded testimony from parents and children about children being exploited on social media. At many stages of the hearing, parents whose children committed suicide held up photos of their dead children.
Highlights of the hearing included:
Mark Zuckerberg Apologizes to Victims’ Families
Republican Senator Josh Hawley from Missouri asked Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg if any victims or their families have been personally compensated by him.
“I don’t think so,” was Zuckerberg’s response.
Hawley noted that families of victims were at the hearing, asking, “Would you like to apologize to them?”
“I’m sorry for everything you have all been through,” Zuckerberg replied, adding, “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.”
According to documents which a lawsuit unsealed, Zuckerberg personally ignored or shut down executives who requested that he take action and protect teens using Instagram.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz from Texas showed a warning screen which pops up when users search for material containing child abuse, noting that Instagram offers users a choice between “get resources” and “see results anyway.”
Regarding this, Cruz asked, “Mr. Zuckerberg, what the hell were you thinking?”
Zuckerberg replied that this screen appears whenever the platform’s algorithm deems a search possibly problematic, and that users are given the option to see results in case the algorithm is wrong.
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham from South Carolina described a story wherein the son of a South Carolina state house representative committed suicide after encountering a scammer on Instagram and becoming a sexual extortion victim. When Graham asked Zuckerberg if the representative should be allowed to file a lawsuit against Zuckerberg, Zuckerberg replied, “I think that they can sue us.”
Evan Spiegel Apologizes to Victims’ Families, Backs Social Media Liability Bill
After being prompted by Democrat Senator Laphonza Butler from California, Evan Spiegel, the CEO of Snap, apologized to the families of kids who died after purchasing drugs on Snapchat.
“I’m so sorry that we have not been able to prevent these tragedies,” the Snap CEO said, prior to explaining efforts his company takes in order to protect its young users.
Lawsuits allege that children have died after taking drugs containing fentanyl which they bought on Snapchat.
Spiegel also expressed that his company supports a federal bill which would create legal liability for social platforms and apps which recommend minors harmful content, asking the social media industry to back this bill.
Parents Testify About What Social Media Did to Their Children
One parent testified that her teenage daughter ended up being sucked up by a “black hole of dangerous content” on Instagram and TikTok after beginning to look at videos on exercise and healthy eating during the COVID lockdowns. The teen developed anorexia within months and almost died, the parent recalled.
Disdain for Social Media Companies Prompts Rare Bipartisanship in Senate
While Democrats and Republicans can’t seem to agree on just about anything these days, they seemed united at the hearing in their disdain for social media companies.
Graham stated he has “almost nothing in common” with Democrat Senator Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts and that his political philosophy is different from that of Democrat Senator Dick Durbin from Illinois.
Graham, though, noted that the three agree regarding how technology is affecting our society.
“Elizabeth and I see an abuse here that needs to be dealt with. Sen. Durbin and I have different political philosophies, but I appreciate what you’ve done on this committee. You’ve been a great partner. To all my Democratic colleagues, thank you very, very much,” Graham said.
Republicans and Democrats alike seemed united in attacking social media companies at the hearing.
Numerous lawmakers noted a contrast between the public response to harm done by social media and the recent news of a Boeing aircraft’s door flying off mid-flight. Democrat Senator Amy Klobuchar from Minnesota, noting how broad support led to the fleet being grounded very quickly, said regarding social media harm, “So why aren’t we taking the same decisive action when we know these kids are dying?”
Republican Senator John Kennedy from Louisiana discussed how social media leads to its young users getting trapped in echo chambers, where they only receive opinions which reinforce their beliefs, saying, “And you take this information, this abundance of personal information and then you develop algorithms to punch people’s hot buttons… again and again and again, to keep them coming back and to keep them staying longer. And as a result, your users see only one side of an issue, and so to some extent, your platform has become a killing field for the truth.”
Lawsuits allege that social media algorithms are designed to keep young users addicted, and one way they do this is by trapping young users in echo chambers which give young users hits of dopamine by validating their opinions and beliefs.
Durbin stated that social media companies have not just contributed to a mental health crisis but “are responsible” for it.
Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee had a confrontation with Zuckerberg regarding internal documents from Meta which suggested that a teen user’s lifetime value is an estimated $270.
Blackburn asked, “How could you possibly even have that thought?” She then recognized a group of young people in the audience and invited the young people to stand. When the youths stood, they were wearing T-shirts which read, “I am worth more than $270.”
Blackburn told Zuckerberg, “Children are not your priority. Children are your product.”
Has Your Child Been Harmed by Social Media? You May Be Eligible for Financial Compensation
Lawsuits are now being filed nationwide by the parents of children who have been harmed by social media. The lawsuits allege that social media platforms’ algorithms are deliberately designed to keep young users addicted, and expose young users to dangerous content which can lead to depression, anxiety and even suicide.
Nadrich & Cohen is filing lawsuits on behalf of children who have been harmed by social media, as well as their families. We can help you recover financial compensation for damages such as medical bills, pain and suffering, wrongful death and more.
We are contingency fee lawyers, which means that we will not charge any fee to handle your social media case until and unless we recover financial compensation on your behalf. The only fee we will charge to handle your social media case is a percentage of any money we recover for you. You won’t be charged an upfront fee or out-of-pocket fee for us to handle your social media case.
If your child has been harmed by social media, that harm constitutes an injury, and we have been helping injury victims recover compensation for their injuries since 1990. We have recovered in excess of $400,000,000 for our clients. We have the experience to recover the maximum possible compensation in your social media case.
If your child needs medical or psychological treatment and you can’t afford it, we can get your child to doctors who will treat your child on a lien, meaning you won’t be charged for treatment until your case is over. Doctors do this for our clients because we have a long, well-documented history of getting great results for our clients.
Call us today for a free consultation, text us from this page or fill out the free case evaluation form on this page if your child was harmed by social media. Let us file a lawsuit on your behalf and obtain for you and your child the justice and compensation you deserve.