Tags: dick durban | social media | mental health | children | mark zuckerberg | meta | hearing

Sen. Durbin Likens Zuckerberg to Tobacco Execs

By    |   Thursday, 01 February 2024 09:42 PM EST

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg made an "outrageous" statement when he told Durbin's Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that there is "no causal link between using social media and young people having worse mental health outcomes."

"It harkens me back to when the tobacco executives came before us [in the 1990s] and swore nicotine was not addictive and their product was not killing people," Durbin told CNN on Thursday. "It was an outrageous statement by Mr. Zuckerberg, and a man with the resources he has and the advisers he has should not have said anything like that."

Zuckerberg was joined at the Big Tech and the Online Child Sexual Exploitation Crisis hearing by the CEOs of X (Linda Yaccarino), TikTok (Shou Zi Chew), Snap (Evan Spiegel), and Discord (Jason Citron). Meta platforms include Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp.

The hearing started with video testimony from parents of children who had either been victims of sexual abuse online or who died by suicide after spending time on the platforms exacerbated their mental health problems. Parents and advocates in the hearing room held up photos of victims to voice their support of holding the companies accountable and protecting children.

Zuckerberg was in the hot seat from the start when Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., the committee's ranking member, scolded the Meta CEO.

"Mr. Zuckerberg, you and the companies before us, I know you don't mean it to be so, but you have blood on your hands," Graham said after recalling a story about the 17-year-old son of South Carolina state Rep. Brandon Guffey, R-Rock Hill, who died by suicide after being the victim of a sexual extortion scheme on Instagram. Guffey has reportedly filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Instagram.

"You have a product that's killing people," Graham said. "When we had cigarettes killing people, we did something about it — maybe not enough. When you're talking about guns, we have the ATF [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives]. Nothing here. There's not a damn thing anybody can do about it."

Regulation of social media platforms is one of the rare bipartisan issues in Congress. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have said companies have not done enough to prevent child sexual exploitation on social media apps.

Durbin told CNN he believes there is enough bipartisan support in the Senate to get measures passed to compel social media companies to better protect children from abusive content.

"The good news is we start off with five bills that passed unanimously out of the committee," Durbin said. "That, I think, is our template we need to bring to the floor of the United States Senate. I know the Senate as well as most people. I will tell you to get this done you have to have a bipartisan measure and an agreement on time and amendments. That's not easy in a Senate designed to stop and kill legislation right and left.

"I think we can do it. I think the political force you saw in that hearing and in that room can make a difference."

Newsmax reached out to Meta for comment. In an email response, a Meta spokesperson provided links to 2023 reports from the National Academies and from the American Psychological Association, saying they back up Zuckerberg's claim that there is no causal link between using social media and young people having worse mental health outcomes.

Michael Katz

Michael Katz is a Newsmax reporter with more than 30 years of experience reporting and editing on news, culture, and politics.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


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Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg made an "outrageous" statement when he told Durbin's Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that there is "no causal link between using social media and young people having worse mental health outcomes."
dick durban, social media, mental health, children, mark zuckerberg, meta, hearing
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2024-42-01
Thursday, 01 February 2024 09:42 PM
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