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The latest news from every corner of the state, including policy emerging from Missouri's capitol.

Social media CEOs apologize to victim families for harm experienced online

Apple iPad and iPhone X with icons of social media facebook, instagram, twitter, snapchat application on screen. Social media icons. Social network. Social media
Aleksei - stock.adobe.com
Section 230 of the Communications Act of 1934, enacted as part of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, provides limited federal immunity to providers and users of interactive computer services.

A contentious congressional hearing on Wednesday saw a unanimous push for regulations on social media specifically related to children.

U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley - R-MO - pushed Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg to apologize to families of child victims over social media that caused exploitation, harm, and death.

The CEOs of Meta, X - formerly Twitter, TikTok, Discord, and Snap testified at the hearing. Zuckerberg and Snap's CEO Evan Spiegel gave apologies for the first time after Hawley put them on the spot.

"Would you like to do so now? Well, they're here, you're on national television," said Hawley. "Would you like now to apologize to the victims who have been harmed by your products? Show them the pictures. Would you like to apologize for what you've done to these good people?"

Zuckerberg turned and stood and faced the audience and said "I'm sorry for everything you have all been through. No one should go through the things that your families have suffered and this is why we invest so much, and we are going to continue doing industrywide efforts to make sure no one has to go through the things your families have had to suffer."

Some victims' families have said although they were surprised, they didn't think the apologies sounded sincere.

Members of Congress said they hoped to find common ground to create laws that would make the Internet a safer place. Senators including Sen. Jon Ossoff - D-GA - repeatedly asked the social media tycoons to consider the victims and recognize the risks of being online.

"We want to work in a productive, open, honest, and collaborative way to pass legislation that will protect American children above all," said Ossoff. "If we don't start with an open, honest, candid, realistic assessment of the issues, we can't do that if you're not willing to acknowledge the internet is a dangerous place for children."

Earlier this week, explicit deep-fake Artificial Intelligence images of pop icon Taylor Swift were also released on X.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre announced that legislation would be the obvious way to remedy this type of offense.

The Missouri Public News Service is a partner with KRCU Public Radio.

Born and raised in Canada to an early Pakistani immigrant family, Farah Siddiqi was naturally drawn to the larger purpose of making connections and communicating for public reform. She moved to America in 2000 spending most of her time in California and Massachusetts. She has also had the opportunity to live abroad and travel to over 20 countries.