Videos: Zuckerberg grilled, stands and apologizes during child safety hearing before Senate

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg was grilled during several heated exchanges Wednesday at a Senate hearing about child safety on social media platforms, with one exchange resulting in him standing and apologizing to families in the room who say their children had been harmed online.

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., accused Zuckerberg of failing to enact change on his platforms and asked if he’s ever apologized to the victims for what they’ve been through. 

"Would you like to do so now? While they're here. You're on national television," Hawley said, being met with claps from those in the room. 

The hearing began with recorded testimony from kids and parents who said they or their children were exploited on social media. Throughout the hours-long event, parents who lost children to suicide silently held up pictures of their dead kids.

Zuckerberg stood up. "It’s terrible. No one should have to go through the things that your families have suffered," he can be heard saying. 


Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer of Meta Platforms Inc., center, addresses the audience during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, DC, US, on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024. Photographer: Kent Nishimura/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Hawley went on to ask Zuckerberg if he’d take personal responsibility for the harm that some social media has caused. 

Meta is being sued by dozens of states that say it deliberately designed features on Instagram and Facebook that addict children to its platforms and has failed to protect them from online predators.

Zuckerberg didn’t directly answer the question. 

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"See results anyway"

Earlier, Sen. Ted Cruz grilled Zuckerberg on a warning prompt that is sometimes given to users when the images they’re trying to see may contain sexually explicit material involving children. The prompt comes with an option to "see results anyway." 

"In what sane universe is there a link for "See results anyway?" Cruz questioned. 

"Because we might be wrong," Zuckerberg said. Cruz asked Zuckerberg how many times that warning prompt has popped up, which Zuckerberg said he didn’t know. 

Cruz pressed Zuckerberg if he would commit to learning the answer, saying it’s already been asked of them in a June 2023 oversight letter. Zuckerberg said he’d follow up on that and look into it personally, but wouldn’t give a "yes" or "no" that Cruz went on to ask for.  

Cruz then asked what would happen if someone clicked on "see results anyway."

"What did you do next when that happened? … Did anyone report that user or did anyone go and try to protect that child? What did you do next?" he asked. 

Zuckerberg didn’t answer directly but said that it was "probably" one of the factors used in their "reporting in general," and that Meta has made 26 million reports, according to him, over time to the National Center of Missing Exploited Children. 

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Meta has beefed up its child safety features in recent weeks, announcing earlier this month that it will start hiding inappropriate content from teenagers’ accounts on Instagram and Facebook, including posts about suicide, self-harm and eating disorders. 

In addition to Zuckerberg, CEOs from TikTok, X and other social media companies went before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday to testify as lawmakers and parents grow increasingly concerned about the effects of social media on young people’s lives.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.