Missed Opportunity: Senate Hearing With Five Social Media CEOs


Five social media CEOs were sworn in on Wednesday for what could have been the most eventful children’s online safety hearing yet. But even with some of tech’s most powerful figures under oath, the four-hour hearing was anti-climactic.

Key Takeaway

The Senate hearing with five social media CEOs was a missed opportunity to address critical issues of online safety and accountability.

CEOs Testify Before Senate Judiciary Committee

The Senate subpoenaed recently appointed X CEO Linda Yaccarino, Discord’s Jason Citron and Snap’s Evan Spiegel to appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee, but Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg and TikTok’s Shou Chew agreed to appear without the threat of legal consequence. Yaccarino, Citron and Spiegel all testified for the first time, while Chew faced the committee last year. But for Zuckerberg, this hearing was his eighth rodeo, and it wasn’t an easy one.

Issues Raised by Senators

These CEOs certainly have a lot to answer for. Chat-based platforms Snap and Discord have come under fire for facilitating sextortion crimes and lethal drug dealing, while Meta has been implicated in a laundry list of high-stakes scandals regarding the mental health of teens on its platforms. Meanwhile, TikTok’s algorithmic feed has been found to surface content related to self-harm and suicide, and X has become a breeding ground for white supremacy and extremism.

Zuckerberg’s Apology

In a rare moment for a Senate hearing, Zuckerberg stood up, turned around and faced the audience to address them directly, while some parents held up photos of their deceased children in the air. “I’m sorry for everything you have all been through,” Zuckerberg said. “No one should go through the things that your families have suffered. 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.”

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