Fri. Mar 1st, 2024

Child protection: Mark Zuckerberg apologizes

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Mark Zuckerberg, Meta's big boss, during Wednesday's hearing before the US Senate.

Agence France-Presse

Pressed from all sides, the creator of Facebook and boss of Meta Mark Zuckerberg apologized to the victims' families on Wednesday, during a US Senate hearing on the dangers of social networks for children and adolescents.

The leaders of X (formerly Twitter), TikTok, Discord and Snap were also heard by American senators on the subject, one of the few to achieve consensus among elected politicians from both parties.

Many associations accuse digital platforms of not sufficiently protecting young people, particularly against the risks of sexual exploitation or suicide.< /p>

Mark Zuckerberg (Meta), Linda Yaccarino (X), Shou Zi Chew (TikTok), Evan Spiegel (Snap) and Jason Citron (Discord) therefore faced a torrent of political anger.

There is no tool to hold responsible companies. Instead, the "survivors" and their defenders are reduced to begging these companies to prioritize security over profits.

A quote from Dick Durbin, Democratic senator and head of the Judiciary Committee behind the hearing

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Mr. Zuckerberg, you and the companies before us, I know you don't think so, but you have blood on your hands. You have a product that is killing people, Senator Lindsey Graham told leaders.

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From left to right: Jason Citron (Discord), Evan Spiegel (Snap), Shou Zi Chew (TikTok), Linda Yaccarino (X), and Mark Zuckerberg (Meta).

The creator of Facebook and boss of Meta even had to stand up and apologize to the families of the victims who had gathered in the Congress hall.

We are working hard to provide parents and adolescents with the support and tools necessary to reduce risks, he assured during his opening speech.

Ensuring the safety of young people online has been a challenge since the advent of the Internet and as criminals evolve their tactics , we also need to evolve our defenses.

A quote from Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook and boss of Meta

As the father of three young children, I know that the issues discussed today ;today are horrifying and fueling every parent's nightmares, said Mr. Chew, the head of TikTok.

I intend to invest more than $2 billion in security. This year alone, we have 40,000 professionals working on this, he said.

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Mark Zuckerberg addresses victims' families during the Senate hearing.

X will for its part create a new branch dedicated to the moderation of the platform, which will recruit around a hundred people to fight above all against this scourge, ;after a press release published on Friday.

X is not the platform of choice for children and adolescents, recalled Linda Yaccarino. Children under 13 cannot open an account, and less than 1% of U.S. users are between 13 and 17. For them, the settings are private by default and they cannot allow to be contacted by anyone.

Mark Zuckerberg also expanded on the numerous measures taken by his group to protect young people, recalling having invested more than 20 billion dollars in security since 2016 and employing 40,000 people dedicated to moderation and security on the platforms .

But the senators referred to internal documents at the social media giant, which prove that Mr. Zuckerberg refused to strengthen the teams responsible for uncovering risks for adolescents. The level of hypocrisy is staggering, Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal told the New York Times.

These documents are part of the complaint filed by around forty American states at the end of October. They believe that Meta harms the mental and physical health of young people, citing the risks of addiction, cyberbullying or eating disorders.

Under US law, digital platforms are largely protected from legal liability for content shared on their site.

Many elected officials want to put in place more rules to better regulate them, but new laws have been blocked by a Congress very divided on solutions and intense lobbying from large technology companies.

One ​​of the existing proposed laws is the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA), which aims to protect children from algorithms that may trigger anxiety or depression.

Another idea would be to require social media platforms to verify the #x27;age of network members and that they completely prohibit access to children under 13.

I do not don't think you'll solve the problem. Congress will have to help, Sen. John Neely Kennedy told leaders.

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