Hours before Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony on Wednesday, lawmakers released internal documents showing Meta rejected calls to bulk up resources to combat child safety issues. In 90 pages from fall 2021, discussions about adding staff to focus on children’s well-being and safety were revealed. These documents contradict prior statements by company executives. Senator Richard Blumenthal remarked that Zuckerberg is in the hot seat to defend Meta’s investment in child safety amid rising complaints of toxic and harmful content online. Senator Marsha Blackburn echoed these concerns.
Meta has created more than 30 tools to protect teens and has a “robust” team overseeing youth well-being, but Blumenthal said, “The hypocrisy is mind-boggling.” Meta insisted that these documents do not represent the full context of the company’s actions. The emails reveal senior executives quibbling over budgets and headcounts while also acknowledging regulatory threats.
One incident revealed a request by Mr. Clegg to Mr. Zuckerberg in August 2021 for 45 new staff members, which was turned down.
Mr. Zuckerberg’s prepared remarks for the hearing include speaking about the challenges of being a parent in the digital age and defending Meta by pointing to the tools it has rolled out over the years to give parents more control. Meta plans to suggest that Apple bear responsibility for verifying ages via its App Store.
Mr. Zuckerberg has long positioned the internet as a place of both good and ill and will emphasize how the internet can be a positive place in his testimony.