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social media leaders on capitol hill

February 2, 2024

Lawmakers Grill Social Media Executives, Accusing Them of Failing to Protect Children

Ask students: What issues of accountability came up in the hearing with major technology executives? Who attended the hearing and which companies did they represent?

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Senators interrogated CEOs of top social media companies about online child safety Wednesday in an emotional and contentious hearing, as they tried to get them to back proposed legislation. But much of the focus was on questions of accountability. Lisa Desjardins reports on what took place and Amna Nawaz speaks with Christine McComas, whose daughter died by suicide after being bullied online.

Start to 5:04: Congressional hearing with tech executives

5:05 - end: Interview with mother whose daughter died by suicide after being bullied online

For a transcript of this story, click here.

Remote video URL

Discussion Questions

  1. What issues of accountability came up in the hearing with major technology executives?
  2. Who attended the hearing and which companies did they represent?
  3. Why did lawmakers request a hearing with this group of businesspeople?
  4. How did the presence of family members whose children died by suicide after they were bullied online affect the hearing?
  5. Where are national laws that could change the way tech companies operate made? (You may want to do additional research on state laws that have passed and how social media companies have challenged them under the First Amendment.)

Focus Questions

  1. As discussed in this story, what problems might be solved by regulating large technology companies, including passing KOSA (Kids Online Safety Act)? What potential drawbacks might occur under new regulations proposed by lawmakers?
  2. What did you make of Mark Zuckerberg's apology? (Zuckerberg is CEO/chief executive officer of Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)
  3. What were your thoughts after hearing from Christine McComas, whose daughter died by suicide after being bullied online? According to the New York Times, "Despite years of railing against Big Tech in public, no meaningful legislation has moved its way through Congress to be signed into law."
  4. Media literacy: What additional issues do young people face online that you did not hear discussed in this piece or at the hearing?

The Impact Social Media Is Having on Children and Teens—and What We Can Do About It

What's happening to our kids? Don't miss this important discussion with Randi Weingarten and Frances Haugen on how we can mitigate the impact social media is having on children and teens. 

PBS NewsHour Classroom

PBS NewsHour Classroom helps teachers and students identify the who, what, where and why-it-matters of the major national and international news stories.

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