After a series of tense exchanges between senators and tech executives that clocked in at just under four hours, the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on online child safety came to an end on Wednesday with no clear resolutions in sight. The audience included several family members of victims, who cheered as senators berated the executives and listened stoically as Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Meta, addressed the crowd directly.
Here are some of the key takeaways.
Senators were aggressive in their questioning.
In one of the more combative tech hearings in recent years, senators from both parties refused to back down and pressured the chief executives of Meta, X, TikTok, Discord and Snap to take responsibility — and apologize — for their companies’ role in harming children. At times, the senators shouted and talked over the executives, drawing applause from those in the room. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said the companies had “blood on your hands.”
Zuckerberg addressed families of victims.
After being pressured by Senator Josh Hawley, Republican of Missouri, to apologize for the harm caused by Meta, Mr. Zuckerberg stood from his chair, turned around and addressed families of victims in the audience who had suffered abuse on Meta’s apps.
“I’m sorry for everything you have all been through,” Mr. Zuckerberg said. “No one should go through the things that your families have suffered.” He said that his company was working so that no one else would have to do so, and did not address Meta’s role.