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Protection of minors on the Internet: Mark Zuckerberg wants to make social networks safer for children

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg apologized during a US Senate hearing to parents whose children were harmed by using his online platforms. It was about cyberbullying and social pressure that leads to eating disorders, as well as the dissemination of sexual violence content against children and young people. Zuckerberg was concerned and described the situation as “terrible”. He spoke to the family members present, some of whom held up photos of their children.

“I’m sorry for what you all have been through,” the Washington Post quoted Zuckerberg as saying. “No one should have to suffer what your families have endured. That’s why we’ve invested so much and will continue to do everything we can to make sure no one has to.”

TikTok, Snapchat, X, Discord and Meta were surveyed

In addition to Zuckerberg, other technology industry executives such as TikTok boss Chouzi Chew, Snapchat co-founder Evan Spiegel, Discord boss Jason Citron and the head of the online platform X, Linda Yaccarino, were also invited to Washington, DC. The US senators criticized the companies for their handling of such problematic content. In particular, they accused Zuckerberg’s Facebook company Meta of ignoring the safety of children and young people on the platform in the pursuit of profit. Zuckerberg denied the allegations.

Several bills are currently being drafted in the US Congress that would make social networks liable for the deliberate distribution of content that shows child abuse. The senators called on business leaders to support these legislative initiatives. In the US, online platforms cannot be held responsible for content posted by users. However, they must intervene if they find out about illegal or problematic content. The platforms also strive to proactively filter such content, including through the use of automated software.

TikTok announced $2 billion in protective measures

The online service X wants to set up its own office to combat depictions of child sexual abuse and other violations of the platform’s rules. X CEO Linda Yaccarino said at the hearing that her company believes “that freedom of expression and security can and must coexist.”

TikTok boss Shou Zi Chew announced that the Chinese network wanted to invest more than two billion dollars (around 1.8 billion euros) in “trust and security”. The US company Meta had already announced last Thursday that it would strengthen the protection of minors in its online networks. Concrete plans have not yet been published. The Meta Group includes, among others , Facebook , Instagram and WhatsApp.

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