Coloradans among the families in Congressional hearing Thursday to address child safety on social media

Avery and Lori Schott join families from across the U.S. to raise awareness and push for the Kids Online Safety Act to pass
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Posted at 12:03 PM, Jan 31, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-31 14:03:18-05

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Families from across the country, including Colorado, were in the nation's capitol Wednesday, to hear from social media CEOs testifying in front of members of Congress.

The leaders of five major companies were grilled by lawmakers during a hearing about child safety on social media platforms that went on for more than two hours Wednesday morning.

The CEOs of X, Meta, Snap, Discord and TikTok were all present.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina directed tough criticism toward all of the CEOs right off the bat.

"Mr. Zuckerberg, you and the companies before us, I know you don't mean so, but you have blood on your hands. You have a product that's killing people," he said.

At the start of the hearing, lawmakers played a video of survivors of suicide and exploitation and parents of victims speaking about what they'd been through.

Lawmakers went on to describe how apps like Discord have been used to "abduct, groom and abuse children." They said Meta's Instagram "can connect and promote a network of pedophiles," and pointed out how they believe Snapchat's disappearing messages pose danger, as well.

At one point during the hearing, lawmakers questioned the tech CEOs on how they protect children from pedophiles, sexually explicit content, even bullying.

"Over the last eight years, parents can set time limits, see who they're following, there's ways to hide words. We put special restrictions on teen accounts. They can't be messaged by adults they don't follow or aren't connected to," Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Meta, said.

Before a 10 minute recess, U.S. Senator Josh Hawley asked Zuckerberg if he'd apologized to the families present in the hearing room Thursday.

Zuckerberg stood and told them, "no one should have to go through what your families have suffered."

Among those families were Coloradans Avery and Lori Schott, the parents of 18-year-old Annalee, who died by suicide after her parents said social media accounts exacerbated her mental health.

The Schotts, and the other familes from across the U.S., went to Washington, D.C. to raise awareness and push for the Kids Online Safety Act to pass. It would require harmful material be blocked from children's accounts and allows parents to better supervise their child's activity.

Lawmakers continue grilling session of five major tech CEOs on Capitol Hill

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