Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) roasted Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s seemingly hypocritical stance on censoring conservatives while not removing sexual predators from his social media platforms.
In a Thursday interview with Fox News’s Hannity, Hawley was skeptical of Zuckerberg’s inability to protect children on his platform. He noted that the CEO has devoted plenty of time and money to censoring conservatives while simultaneously failing to “lift a finger” to ban sex predators from Meta-owned platforms.
“He seems to have all the time and attention in the world to censor conservatives,” Hawley told Sean Hannity, referring to Zuckerberg. “Facebook leaped at the opportunity to censor any questions about COVID to label people who had COVID vaccine questions as potential terrorists. If you questioned the Hunter Biden laptop, they shut you down—but they can’t lift a finger to take sex predators off the platform? I don’t buy it.”
Hawley referred to the fact that whistleblowers have repeatedly claimed that Zuckerberg knows that his platform has a problem and that the CEO could fix the problem if he wanted to. “Mark Zuckerberg is worth $140 billion,” Hawley continued. “If he devoted just 10% of that to helping victims, think what he could do for these families. By the way, if he would change his platform and not allow pedophiles and sex predators on there, he could do a service to every family in America.”
Hawley’s remarks came after Zuckerberg, along with the CEOs of TikTok, Snap, Discord and X (formerly Twitter), testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee as it develops legislation seeking to protect children from harmful individuals and organizations, including predators, drug traffickers and sexual exploiters.
Hawley cited Arturo Bejar, an ex-Facebook engineering director and consultant, who blew the whistle on a Meta study showing that 25% of 13-and-15-year-olds reported receiving unwanted sexual content on Instagram within seven days of usage. In response to this finding, Hawley said that the victims of the exploited content should be able to sue Instagram.
During the hearing, the Missouri senator singled out Zuckerberg’s Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, for reportedly profiting from the exploitation of children. “Now it’s time for them to pay up,” Hawley said, referring to Meta. “They need to set up a victims’ compensation fund. They need to pay these people. … The families ought to be able to sue them.”
Hawley is a co-sponsor of the Strengthening Transparency and Obligations to Protect Children Suffering from Abuse and Mistreatment (STOP CSAM) Act of 2023. Introduced by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin (D-IL), the bill would empower victims to bring civil lawsuits against social media platforms that “knowingly” host child sexual abuse material online.
Hawley grilled Zuckerberg for not offering compensation to the victims of sexually exploited content on his social media apps. Hawley pressured the META boss to face the victims, prompting an apology.
“I’m sorry for everything you have all been through,” Zuckerberg told the attendees. “No one should go through the things that your families have suffered.”
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