(WASHINGTON) — The chief executives of the nation’s top social media companies will testify before Congress on Wednesday in a hearing intended to drum up support for federal legislation to safeguard children from the online world.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear from Linda Yaccarino, the chief of X, formerly known as Twitter; Shou Chew, the CEO of TikTok; Evan Spiegel, co-founder and CEO of Snap — the parent company of Snapchat; Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Meta; and Jason Citron, CEO of Discord.
Lawmakers are expected to drill the leaders on sexual exploitation of children online and getting illegal content off social media platforms — a growing problem in the U.S.
According to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, daily cyber tips of child sexual abuse material online have gone up tenfold in the past 10 years, reaching 100,000 daily reports in 2023.
There will also be a large focus on the addictiveness of social media and its impacts on children’s mental health, including exposure to content about eating disorders and suicide.
“As far as I’m concerned, there are no heroes in Big Tech when it comes to kids’ online safety,” Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., wrote in on X ahead of the hearing. “I’m looking forward to pressing these CEOs on their failures to protect children online this morning.”
In response, the CEOs are expected to discuss improvements they’ve made over the past few months. Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, recently announced plans to hide content it deems inappropriate for teens.
Wednesday will be the first time Snap’s CEO, Spiegel, will testify on Capitol Hill in response to allegations that Snapchat is harming children’s mental and physical health.
Snapchat is also being sued in a class action lawsuit by several parents in California, many of whom say they lost their child to fentanyl poisoning and overdose with pills bought on Snapchat.
A spokesperson for Snap told ABC News that Spiegel will discuss his support for The Kids Online Safety Act during Wednesday’s hearing. The “KOSA” bill aims to remove “harmful ads and posts, such as addiction, eating disorders, and suicide from showing up on children’s accounts,” according to supporters of the bill.
Legislative efforts at the national level have mostly failed, but state legislators have introduced more than 100 bills that aim to regulate how children interact with social media.
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