‘I’m Sorry For Everything’: Mark Zuckerberg Faces Families Harmed By Social Media
Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Meta Platforms Inc., center, arrives following a break during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, DC, US, on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024. Congress has increasingly scrutinized social media platforms as growing evidence suggests that excessive use and the proliferation of harmful content may be damaging young people's mental health. Photographer: Kent Nishimura/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Kent Nishimura/Bloomberg via Getty Images

During a Wednesday hearing on social media and child exploitation, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) pressed tech entrepreneur Mark Zuckerberg to address the families who had been hurt by his and other platforms — and the Meta CEO obliged.

Zuckerberg faced a number of tough questions from Hawley and others about child safety as it related to social media platforms — and what those platforms should have done in the past and could do in the future to ensure the safety of younger users.


Hawley pressed Zuckerberg on the fact that families who felt victimized by social media companies often had no recourse, since those companies were protected from lawsuits by their designation as platforms for public speech rather than as publishers who would have a greater responsibility to police what was posted.

“Don’t you think they deserve some compensation for what your platform has done? Help with counseling services. Help with dealing with the issues that your services cause?” Hawley asked.

“Our job is to make sure that we build tools to help keep people safe,” Zuckerberg protested.

“Are you going to compensate them?” Hawley asked again.

“Senator, our job and what we take seriously is making sure that we build industry leading tools to find harmful —” Zuckerberg tried once more.

“To make money,” Hawley said.


Toward the end of their exchange, Hawley told the Facebook creator that he owed an apology to the families who had been harmed by his product — and Zuckerberg complied.

“I’m sorry for everything you’ve all gone through. Nobody should have to go through what your families have suffered,” he said. “This is why we have invested so much and are going to continue industry leading efforts to make sure that no one has to go through the types of things your families have suffered.”

Mary Rodee, one of the parents in the gallery, told The Hill that she was not impressed by Zuckerberg’s apology.

“If he really wants to apologize to me then answer any of my letters or contacts from any attorneys or anybody else the whole time since my kid died three years ago,” she said, noting that her son had died by suicide at the age of 15 after someone used explicit photos to extort money from him via Facebook Messenger. “In that very short time, he panicked. He was an impulsive 15-year-old. He felt totally trapped and he killed himself.”

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