Sen. Lindsey Graham on Wednesday told Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other social media executives to their faces, “You have blood on your hands” and that their product “is killing people.”
The CEOs of the largest social media companies testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about online child exploitation.
The CEOs in the committee hot seat were Zuckerberg of Meta, parent company of Facebook and Instagram; Evan Spiegel of Snap; Shou Chew of TikTok Inc.; Linda Yaccarino of X Corp., the social media platform formerly known as Twitter; and Jason Citron of Discord Inc.
“Social media companies, as they are currently designed and operated, are dangerous products,” said Graham, R-S.C., the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “They are destroying lives, threatening democracy itself. These companies must be reined in, or the worst is yet to come.”
Graham related the story of a teen who was blackmailed through social media messages and eventually killed himself.
“Mr. Zuckerberg, you and the companies before us—I know you don’t mean to be so—but you have blood on your hands,” Graham said to applause in the hearing room. “You have a product that is killing people. When we had cigarettes killing people, we did something about it.”
Graham and other senators on the panel suggested repealing Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that makes social media companies immune from liability for the content users post.
“Of all the people in America we could give blanket liability protection to, this would be the last group I would pick. It is now time to repeal Section 230,” the South Carolina lawmaker said.
He added the companies are treated differently than those in any other industry.
“What do you do with dangerous products? You either allow lawsuits, you pass statutory protections to protect consumers, or you have a commission of sorts to regulate the industry in question,” Graham said. “To take your license away if you have a license, to fine you. None of that exists here. There is no regulatory body to deal with the most profitable, biggest companies in the history of the world. They can’t be sued, and there is not one law on the books that is meaningful protecting the American consumer. Other than that, we are in a good spot.”
During his opening statement, Zuckerberg told the Senate panel there is no link between social media use and teen mental health.
“With so much of our lives spent on mobile devices and social media, it’s important to look into the effects on teen mental health and well-being. I take this very seriously,” he said. “Mental health is a complex issue, and the existing body of scientific work has not shown a causal link between use of social media and young people having a worse mental health outcomes.”
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