There is bipartisan agreement that the Big Tech industry is failing to protect Americans, especially our children. We recently held a hearing to question Jack Dorsey of Twitter, Sundar Pichai of Google, and Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: Supreme Court sides with Google in copyright fight against Oracle | Justices dismiss suit over Trump’s blocking of critics on Twitter | Tim Cook hopes Parler will return to Apple Store Democrats press Facebook on plans for Instagram for kids Congressional CEO grillings can’t solve disinformation: We need a public interest regulator MORE of Facebook about their roles and responsibilities under existing federal law to enforce impartial standards and protect an open exchange of ideas. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act was meant to protect our society by giving companies liability protections for monitoring third-party content posted on their platforms in “good faith.” Based on recent actions, however, it is clear that their definition of “good faith” moderation includes censoring viewpoints they disagree with and establishing a faux independent appeals process that does not make its content moderation decisions based on American principles of free expression. Big Tech has been picking and choosing which parts of the 1996 Telecom Act to follow, which is inappropriate and leading to dangerous results. Consider these disturbing facts:

  • 59 percent of U.S. teens have been bullied or harassed online
  • Of children currently experiencing a mental health problem, 68 percent say they experienced cyberbullying in the last year.
  • More youth experienced cyberbullying on Instagram than any other platform at 42 percent, with Facebook following close behind at 37 percent.
  • Teachers report that cyberbullying is their top safety concern in their classrooms.
  • According to a recent study, use of social media by children under age 13 is commonplace.

Young American children and teenagers are addicted, actually addicted, to their devices and social media. This problem has been exacerbated by the pandemic and will only get worse if children continue to be separated from their peers and cannot learn from their teachers in a classroom.

Under questioning, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg confirmed that his company is planning a launch of a new Instagram application specifically designed to target kids under the age of 13. At the same time, he hesitated over viewing habits of his own children when it came to his competitor YouTube. One has to wonder if the real concern here is losing young viewers to Google as opposed to actually setting up strong protections for kids.

Company leaders believe they can make even more money by engaging children at a younger age. We are both parents, and we have significant concerns about how the children in our country will be manipulated by Big Tech’s algorithms. We most certainly do not want their futures or their self-worth defined by the engagement tools Big Tech has built to attract their attention for monetary gain.

We have significant concerns that as Big Tech works to drive children to social media platforms at an even earlier age this site will become a hub for child predators. We have already seen the harmful impacts that social media has had on teens and believe the danger outweighs any perceived value. By extending these platforms to even younger children, we will only see history repeat itself with the painful lessons YouTube displayed. Clearly, the safety of our children and the type of content they see online should not be left to Big Tech CEOs.

During the hearing, we were hoping to hear these leaders discuss how they intend to stop the poisonous practices on their platforms that drive depression, isolation, and suicide, while improving cooperation with law enforcement to protect our citizens. Instead, they offered the same excuses and distractions we’ve heard them blather about before.

As Big Tech refuses to do the right thing, Congress must come together and act — for our children.

Gus Bilirakis is ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee and Bob Latta is ranking member on the House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee.

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