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Social Media Kills: Mark Zukerberg and Evan Spiegel Apologize to Heartbroken Parents


On January 31st, 2024, the CEOs of major social media platforms sat together before senators and distressed parents on the Capitol Hill of Washington, D.C. The notable founders of these popular and frequently used platforms, X (Twitter), Snapchat, Meta (Facebook and Instagram), Discord, and TikTok, all sat in reflection as the Senate Judiciary Committee “grilled” them about their role in enabling child safety and protecting children from sexual exploitation, bullying, and harassment, according to CNN.

Particularly, the parents of the victims, children who had suffered as a result of social media, stood after the executives holding pictures depicting their loved ones. Of the five CEOs present, Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Meta, and Evan Spiegel, founder of Snapchat, both apologized to the heavy-hearted parents regarding the role that their apps have in the harm caused to their children. Zuckerberg turned to the parents 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 industry-wide efforts to make sure no one has to go through the things your families have had to suffer.”

New Mexico Attorney General Raúl Torrez, dissatisfied with Zuckerberg’s apology, along with many others, stated that Zuckerberg “needs to start acting like a parent. He has kids himself. He needs to start acting like that.” Torrez then said, “When he builds these platforms, when he makes these decisions, he needs to think about what it would be like to have his son or daughter exposed to this. He needs to think about what it would be like to live through the pain and heartbreak that these parents have had to endure. He needs to really take a step back and evaluate his priorities and start helping us build a better future and stop fighting, real change.”

Furthermore, Republican Senator Ted Cruz rebuked Zuckerberg for his efforts to censor child abuse content on Instagram. If users searched for content related to Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM), it would simply leave them with a warning but still allow them to proceed with viewing. “Mr. Zuckerberg, what the hell were you thinking?” Cruz shouted.

Consequently, Evan Spiegel, the CEO of Snapchat, chose not to face the parents and continued to apologize to the families whose children had died as a result of purchasing drugs through the platform: “I’m so sorry that we have not been able to prevent these tragedies. We work very hard to block all search terms related to drugs on our platform.”

Left disappointed by this apology, Bridgette Norring, a parent of one of the victims who had died from a fentanyl-laced pill obtained through Snapchat, expressed her discontent with the CEO by referring to the apology as “fake.” Norring told CNN that it “lacked any heart. I think [Spiegel] could have done better in his apology to us.” When asked about her initial thoughts during the hearing, she said that it was “very frustrating to sit and listen to them.” Norring also claimed that to the tech CEOs, children were just being seen as “casualties” and “pawns” and were just a way for the executives to make money.

Senator Lindsey Graham went on to inform Zuckerberg about a user who had died from suicide because of his app. “It’s terrible. No one should have to go through something like that,” Zuckerberg said after being informed about the victim. Graham then proceeded to ask Zuckerberg if he thought that the family of the victim should be able to sue his company.

“I think they can sue us,” Zuckerberg replied, hesitantly. Not stopping there, Graham went down the row of the executives and asked each one if they supported such legislation, taking note of each response, and how they all had chosen to not give a direct answer. “The bottom line, I’ve come to conclude, is that you aren’t going to support any of this,” he announced. “If you’re waiting on these guys to solve the problem, we’re going to die waiting.” 


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About the Contributor
Sierra Latchman
Sierra Latchman, Student Writer
Meet Sierra. She is a sophomore this year and is excited to spend her first year writing for The Gull. She enjoys writing about the news, specifically criminal cases, and pop culture. Sometimes when she's bored, she binges true crime documentaries on Netflix. Despite her eerie interests, she loves to bake, read, travel, and listen to music. Ultimately, she’s elated to be a part of The Gull and hopes to create informative articles for everyone to read and learn from.

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