Meta boss Mark Zuckerberg’s stunning apology to the parents of online child sex abuse victims during a Senate hearing was “too little, too late,” according to one of the state attorneys general currently suing the social media giant.
New Mexico attorney general Raúl Torrez, whose office has sued Meta for exposing kids to adult sex content and alleged child predators, was on Capitol Hill on Wednesday as a contrite Zuckerberg told parents he was “sorry for everything you have all been through.”
“Mr. Zuckerberg has appeared before Congress many times before, he has given assurances about the safety of his platforms many times before,” Torrez told The Post. “It seems that once the spotlight fades, they go right back to doing business as usual.”
Senate Republicans, including Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham, each dismissed Meta’s touted safety measures as ineffective during heated exchanges with Zuckerberg.
Zuckerberg, who surprised the hearing’s attendees by standing up from his podium and speaking directly to the audience, told parents that “no one should go through the things that your families have suffered.”
Earlier, Zuckerberg testified that his company had spent $5 billion on safety last year.
Torrez dismissed Zuckerberg’s apology.
“It was clear to me that members of the committee have lost any faith in the leadership of these companies – particularly Mr. Zuckerberg,” he said. “I think the American people are skeptical and parents remain deeply concerned about the kind of content we uncovered in our investigation.”
Lawmakers from both parties argued that tech firms should lose liability shields, such as Section 230, that protect them from directly being sued by victims. Torrez said Section 230 was “enacted in a totally different era” and should either be eliminated or “severely” restricted.
The Facebook founder’s apology also fell flat with Fairplay, an advocacy group that supports the bipartisan Kids Online Safety Act, which would impose a “duty of care” on social media platforms and other tech firms to protect minors from dangerous content.
“If anybody still thought Meta was capable of self-regulation, today’s hearing should have disabused them of that notion,” Fairplay executive director Josh Golin told The Post. “Zuckerberg’s tone-deaf evasions and mumbled half-hearted apologies make clear that Congress needs to act and pass the Kids Online Safety Act.”
Zuckerberg is personally named as a defendant in New Mexico’s suit, which is based on findings of a lengthy probe in which state investigators set up test accounts for four fictional children. The accounts were allegedly bombarded with disturbing messages, including “pictures and videos of genitalia” and horrific sexual propositions from adult users.
“He needs to not think about these decisions simply as a business executive. He’s a parent – start acting like it,” Torrez said. “Place the same kind of safeguards and protections that he would demand for his own children and apply them to his business. If he did that, we’d all be in a better place.”
Meta did not immediately return a request for comment.
As The Post reported, an unredacted version of the suit cited an internal 2021 Meta presentation that found “100,000 children per day received online sexual harassment, such as pictures of adult genitalia.”
The complaint included communications among Meta staffers discussing problems with online sex exploitation on the platform, with one worker describing the company’s inaction as “really, really upsetting.”
The attorney general’s office alleged Meta “knew about the huge volume of inappropriate content being shared between adults and minors they did not know” – and that Zuckerberg made business decision that placed children at risk.