Mark Zuckerberg apologizes to families for social media's impact on kids

SCIENCE & TECH: Mark Zuckerberg apologizes to families for social media’s impact on kids

Mark Zuckerberg delivered a surprise apology to the families of victims of online child sex abuse in the middle of a heated Senate hearing on Capitol Hill.

In a stunning move on Wednesday, the billionaire boss of Meta stood up from his chair and turned to face the back of the room, where parents held up pictures of their children who they said had been harmed by social media.

“I’m sorry for everything you have all been through,” said Zuckerberg, who was grilled for hours by lawmakers over Meta’s failure to crack down on child predators and “sextortion” crimes on Facebook and Instagram.

“No one should go through the things that your families have suffered,” Zuckerberg added. “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.”

As the hearing kicked off, the Senate committee played a video in which children spoke about being bullied on social media platforms.

Meta CEO Zuckerberg apologized to families at a Senate hearing about the impact that social media has on children. Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images
Several parents held up pictures of their children who have been harmed by social media. Allison Bailey/NurPhoto/Shutterstock

Senators recounted stories of young people taking their own lives after being extorted for money after sharing photos with sexual predators.

“Would you like now to apologize to the victims who have been harmed by your product?” Hawley asked, noting the hearing was being broadcast on live television.

The 39-year-old tech tycoon responded by rising from his chair and coughing up the groveling mea culpa to the packed room.

“Your product is killing people,” Hawley told Zuckerberg as he argued that Congress should move quickly to revoke Section 230, which protects social media platforms from liability for content posted by their users.

The Missouri senator also pressed Zuckerberg on whether Meta had plans to compensate, or had already compensated, the families of victims who suffered from online exploitation, either financially or through support resources such as counseling.

Zuckerberg told the parents that “no one should go through the things that your families have suffered.” REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein
Under prodding from Republican Sen. Josh Hawley, Zuckerberg addressed the families whose children had been harmed by social media. AP

“I don’t believe so,” Zuckerberg said. “Our job is to build tools to help keep people safe across our platforms.”

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