CEOs of major social media platforms, including Meta, TikTok, Snap, X, and Discord, appeared before the US Senate to address concerns regarding child safety and platform accountability.

During the nearly four-hour hearing, senators questioned the tech executives on measures to protect children from harmful content online. Families of children affected by social media-related harm were present, expressing their grievances and demanding accountability from the platforms.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologized to the families, acknowledging the distress caused by social media platforms and reaffirming the company’s commitment to addressing safety concerns. Zuckerberg faced intense scrutiny, particularly regarding Instagram’s handling of potentially harmful content.

TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew denied allegations of sharing US users’ data with the Chinese government and emphasised the platform’s efforts to ensure user safety. Discord CEO Jason Citron faced criticism from lawmakers for the platform’s stance on proposed online safety legislation.

The hearing highlighted the urgent need for bipartisan legislation to regulate social media platforms effectively. Lawmakers expressed frustration at the lack of progress in implementing robust safety measures.

In response to the hearing, Meta announced new safety measures, including default settings to prevent minors from receiving messages from strangers on Instagram and Messenger. However, concerns remain regarding the efficacy of these measures and the broader issue of platform accountability.

Following the hearing, parents rallied outside the Senate, urging legislators to pass the Kids Online Safety Act to hold social media companies accountable for their platforms’ impact on children. Former senior staff member Arturo Béjar criticised Meta’s approach to teen safety, calling for additional measures to protect users from unwanted advances.

The hearing underscored the ongoing challenges surrounding child safety on social media platforms and the urgent need for regulatory action to address these issues effectively. As the debate continues, the tech industry faces mounting pressure to prioritise user safety and accountability.