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Ray Bogan

Political Correspondent

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Senators ask Mark Zuckerberg to hand over emails about harm to children

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Ray Bogan

Political Correspondent

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A bipartisan group of senators is asking Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg to hand over a series of emails, documents and presentations. These materials may reveal what executives knew about their platform’s harm to children.

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The request is in response to testimony from former Facebook employee Arturo Bejar, who said he informed Zuckerberg and other executives about internal research showing that young people were having harmful experiences on Instagram.

Bejar said when he worked at Facebook as the director of engineering for Protect and Care, the team created features to build a safer environment. He left the company in 2015 but rejoined as a consultant after his teenage daughters received unwanted sexual advances on Instagram.

I discovered that most of the tools for kids that we had put in place during my earlier time at Facebook had been removed.

Arturo Bejar, former Facebook employee

“I discovered that most of the tools for kids that we had put in place during my earlier time at Facebook had been removed,” Bejar told Congress. “I observed new features being developed in response to public outcry, which were, in reality, kind of a placebo, a safety feature in name only.”

“And it seems to me that the reaction was to pat you on the head and, in effect, tell you to go away, be a good boy,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said to Bejar.  

The senators are asking for emails from Bejar to Zuckerberg, former COO Sheryl Sandberg and other executives. They are also asking for all correspondence related to outreach from members of Instagram’s well-being team to senior executives recommending additional investment and staffing to address “currently underinvested” teen well-being areas.

The lawmakers accused Meta of misleading Congress by concealing and misrepresenting its knowledge about threats to young people.

“Meta hid this information from the public and Congressional oversight while providing misleading statistics, ignoring recommendations to protect teens, and even rolling back safety tools,” the senators said in their letter.

The lawmakers are requesting this information no later than Nov. 30.

The request letter was signed by Sens. Blumenthal, Durbin, D-Ill., Blackburn, R-Tenn., Graham, R-S.C., Warren D-Mass., and Hawley, R-Mo.

In October, 33 state attorneys general sued Meta, accusing the company of using addictive features to keep young people on its platforms longer. They also said Meta misled the public about the “substantial dangers” of its platforms.

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A bipartisan group of senators is asking Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg to hand over emails, documents and presentations that may shine a light on what executives knew about their platform’s harm to children. 

The request is in response to testimony from Arturo Bejar, Facebook’s former director of engineering for Protect and Care, that alleged that he informed Zuckerberg and other executives about internal research that showed young people were having harmful experiences on Instagram. 

Bejar said when he worked at Facebook, they created features to build a safer environment. He left the company in 2015. But after his teenage daughters received unwanted sexual advances on Instagram, he rejoined as a consultant. 

“I discovered that most of the tools for kids that we had put in place during my earlier time at Facebook had been removed,” Bejar told Congress. “I observed new features being developed in response to public outcry, which were in reality, kind of a placebo, a safety feature in name only.” 

“And it seems to me that the reaction was to pat you on the head and in effect, tell you to go away. Be a good boy,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said.  

The Senators are asking for very specific information, like emails from Bejar to Zuckerberg, former COO Sheryl Sandberg, and other executives, and all correspondence related to outreach from members of Instagram’s Well-Being Team to senior executives recommending additional investment and staffing to address ‘currently underinvested’ teen well-being areas. 

They accused Meta of misleading Congress by concealing and misrepresenting its knowledge about threats to young people. 

They said in the letter, “Meta hid this information from the public and Congressional oversight while providing misleading statistics, ignoring recommendations to protect teens, and even rolling back safety tools.”

The lawmakers are requesting this information no later than November 30.  Straight from DC, I’m Ray Bogan.