Exclusive: Hawley presses Zuckerberg to compensate online harm victims
Sen. Josh Hawley wrote to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg Thursday asking him to personally bankroll a victims' compensation fund for families of children who say they were exploited by Meta's platforms, per a letter shared exclusively with Axios.
Driving the news: On Wednesday Hawley prompted Zuckerberg to stand up and apologize to families at a Senate Judiciary hearing about online harms for children and the role of social media.
- Hawley asked about a fund at the hearing as well, as he argued that Meta's products harm children and cited internal statistics about self-harm and sexual content viewed by younger users on Instagram.
What they're saying: "Yesterday, you publicly apologized to the families of children exploited by your platforms... Now you can show the world you were sincere," Hawley wrote in the letter.
- "I urge you to immediately create a fund endowed by your own personal wealth for the purpose fo compensating those who have been victimized by your platforms..."
- "You amassed your fortune from Facebook's growth; but while your platform grew, so did its role in enabling child exploitation."
The other side: At the hearing, Zuckerberg said the company's work is industry-leading and cited the large volume of harmful content the platform takes down every day, while pointing to Meta's tools for parents to control their kids' online experiences.
- Meta did not respond to a request for comment.
Be smart: Demanding accountability from tech CEOs and forcing them to face families whose lives have been negatively impacted by social media is notable — but it's ultimately up to Congress to pass laws to compel changes in company behavior.