Big Tech Is Putting Profit Over The Safety Of Kids Online. It’s Time to Hold Them Accountable.

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 19: Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) speaks at a news conference on the Supreme Court at the U.S. Capitol Building on July 19, 2023 in Washington, DC. Senators with the Senate Judiciary Committee held the press conference to discuss Senate Judiciary Chairman Richard Durbin's (D-IL) upcoming ethics bill for U.S. Supreme Court justices. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Today, five CEOs of Big Tech companies — Meta, X, TikTok, Snap, and Discord — will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee and make excuses for the failure of their platforms to protect children online from harmful content, dangerous algorithms, and child predators.

One thing is certain: These CEOs have a lot to answer for.

Every day, new evidence comes to light showing just how far Big Tech is willing to go to put profit over safety.

Just this month, newly released internal documents about Meta’s child safety policies revealed that in 2021 an estimated 100,000 minors received sexually abusive content from adults on Facebook and Instagram — each day. Although employees warned top executives that Meta’s algorithm connected minors with potential child predators, the company ignored their warnings and did nothing about the abuse on their platforms.

The new information, revealed through a lawsuit brought by the New Mexico Attorney General against the tech giant, corroborates testimony from Facebook whistleblower Arturo Bejar, who testified before the Judiciary Committee last November.

Bejar, a former engineering director at Facebook, told us that Meta executives knew that millions of teens face bullying, eating disorder content, and sexual exploitation on their platforms. Yet Meta withheld this information from congressional oversight, rolled back safety tools, and dismantled teams responsible for children’s safety.

Unfortunately, Meta isn’t the only tech giant that is endangering children.

Across the board we’ve seen social media platforms — including Snapchat, Chinese-owned TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook — become open drug markets where dealers connect with children and selling them illicit drugs, including fentanyl. Just as dealers and drug traffickers have built their distribution networks through these sites, fentanyl has become the leading cause of death for Americans aged 18 to 45, claiming the lives of 70,000 people each year.

Perhaps most disturbing, reports continue to emerge showing how human traffickers and predators exploit Big Tech platforms to lure underage victims, entice American youth to participate in their smuggling operations, and traffick women and children.

As hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants enter our country each month, cartels are reportedly offering thousands of dollars in cash payments on TikTok and Snapchat to recruit Americans to come to the Southern border and traffick migrants into the United States.

On X, formerly known as Twitter, users have advertised the sale of child sexual abuse material.

And on Discord, a messaging platform popular among minors, predators have exchanged child sexual abuse material, groomed children for abduction, and extorted children after enticing them to share sexual images of themselves. In one case just last year, a predator abducted a 13-year-old girl from Texas, raped her, and left her locked in a backyard shed after connecting with her on the messaging site.

This is every parent’s worst nightmare. And for years, my colleagues and I on the Senate Judiciary Committee have heard similar stories from countless parents who lost their children after they connected with a drug dealer, sex trafficker, or pedophile on a social media site.

In response, Big Tech executives have made excuse after excuse over their failure to stop the rampant abuse, malicious content, and criminality on their platforms. But nothing has changed.

If Big Tech won’t act, Congress must step in.

That’s why Senator Blumenthal (D-CT) and I have introduced the Kids Online Safety Act, which would provide parents and children with the tools, safeguards, and transparency they need to protect against online harms.

This bipartisan legislation includes crucial provisions to hold Big Tech companies accountable: requirements that platforms give minors the option to protect their personal information and opt out of algorithmic recommendations by default; new controls for parents to identify harmful behavior and report abuse directly to social media sites; and mandatory audits to ensure that platforms are mitigating harms to children.

Alongside Senator Ossoff (D-GA), I’ve also led the REPORT Act, which would provide the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and law enforcement with the tools they need to crack down on online child sex abuse material and child trafficking.

Along with many other important measures, the bill, which unanimously passed the Senate last month, would make the reporting of child trafficking and enticement mandatory for online platforms, incurring fines of up to $1 million for each offense.

Without real and enforceable reforms, social media companies will only continue to pay lip service to the issue of protecting children — while putting profits over their safety. These important pieces of legislation will help bring this charade to an end.

* * *

U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn represents the state of Tennessee and serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The views expressed in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

Already have an account?

Got a tip worth investigating?

Your information could be the missing piece to an important story. Submit your tip today and make a difference.

Submit Tip
Download Daily Wire Plus

Don't miss anything

Download our App

Stay up-to-date on the latest
news, podcasts, and more.

Download on the app storeGet it on Google Play
The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Big Tech Is Putting Profit Over The Safety Of Kids Online. It’s Time to Hold Them Accountable.