Lawmakers grill Major tech CEOs about online Child Exploitation

by | Feb 7, 2024 | Tech & Kids

Major tech CEOs were in the hot seat during a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. The Senate grilled the CEOs of Meta, TikTok, X, Snapchat and Discord last week, arguing social media companies must be held accountable for the sexual exploitation of children that their apps facilitate and the harmful effects of their products on the mental health of young people. 

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced the toughest questioning, at one point turning around to apologize to parents who filled the chamber. Those parents carried pictures of their children whose deaths have been tied to social media through drugs, harassment and other threats.

Senator Lindsey Graham accused Mark Zuckerberg: “You have blood on your hands,” and the audience erupted in applause.

“Children are not your priority; children are your product,” commented Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.).


Child trauma on social media

The senators and tech giants elaborated on the trauma occurring on these platforms. The following are a few that were discussed.

  • Discord’s allowance of pornographyon its platform raised concerns about minors’ exposure to online sexual interactions.
  • Instagram’s promotion of child sexual abuse material (CSAM) underscored the urgent need for enhanced content moderation measures.
  • Instagram’s algorithm helped pedophiles seeking CSAM find young victims.


Proposed bills and measures

The following proposed bills come as a response to the failure of tech companies to adequately self-regulate, prompting calls from senators and parents alike for legal action to end the protections provided by Section 230. These measures aim to hold tech platforms accountable for the damage inflicted on users, particularly children. Notably, the Stop CSAM Act allows victims of CSAM to sue platforms, signaling a significant shift in accountability as their immunity under Section 230 would be revoked.


  • Stop CSAM Act: Mandates child abuse reporting, enhances protections for child victims, and allows victims to sue platforms.

  • EARN IT Act: Establishes a dedicated team to prevent online child exploitation and creates incentives for the tech industry to address online child sexual exploitation.
  • SHIELD ActEquips law enforcement with the tools they need to address privacy violations and establishes federal criminal liability for sharing explicit images.
  • Project Safe Childhood Act: Modernizes the investigation and prosecution of online child exploitation crimes, enhancing collaboration between federal prosecutors and law enforcement.
  • REPORT ActEmpowers victims to report CSAM to NCMEC, enables the use of modern technology to store and transfer CSAM, requires online platforms to report child sex trafficking, and supports law enforcement by extending content retention periods.

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