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Sen Lindsey Graham rails against Zuckerberg and tech CEOs: ‘You have blood on your hands’

‘You have a product that’s killing people,’ senator from South Carolina tells tech CEOs

Katie Hawkinson,Eric Garcia
Wednesday 31 January 2024 16:31 GMT
Senator Lindsey Graham tells tech CEOs they have ‘blood’ on their hands

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on social media safety, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told major tech CEOS they have “blood on their hands.”

“Mr Zuckerberg, you and the companies before us, I know you don’t mean it to be so, but you have blood on your hands, you have a product that’s killing people,” Mr Graham, a Republican, said at the hearing.

TikTok’s Shou Zi Chew and Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg were the only CEOs who appeared voluntarily, Mr Durbin said. Discord CEO Jason Citron, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel, and X CEO Linda Yaccarino attended under subpoenas, he said.

The remarks came as the CEOs of X, TikTok, Discord, Meta and Snap gathered in Washington DC Wednesday morning to testify to the committee, led by Chairman Dick Durbin of Illinois and Ranking Member Graham.

The hearing began with video testimonies from survivors of childhood sexual abuse on social media, as well as their families. The loved ones of those who have died by suicide after suffering from childhood sexual abuse online also spoke via video.

Senate hearings with tech CEOs have been historically contentious, and Wednesday’s hearing was no different.

In his introduction, Mr Graham called on lawmakers to repeal Section 230, a portion of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. The section protects social media companies by providing immunity to civil liability based on third-party content or the removal of content under some circumstances.

Later, Mr Graham grilled TikTok’s chief executive Shou Zi Chew and said that the law must be changed to allow families to sue on behalf of children.

“Nothing will change until the courtroom door is open to victims of social media,” he said. Mr Graham also pointed out how TikTok’s top official in Israel resigned because of antisemitism and his colleagues celebrating attacks on Jews. Mr Graham also exhorted Jason Citron, the chief executive of Discord.

“Go to the American courtroom and defend your practices,” he said. “Open up the courthouse door. Until you do that nothing will change until these people can be sued for the damage they're doing.”

Mr Graham also lambasted tech companies for blocking legislation.

“There's not one law on the book because you oppose everything we do,” he said.

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