Senators Push Zuckerberg for Answers

Senators Push Zuckerberg for Answers

( – US Senators are pushing Meta and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg for answers after reports that Instagram’s “warning screens,” which have now been shut down, provided access to illegal images of children.

The effort is being led by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), who serves as the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, and a host of senior Republican senators, including Ted Cruz of Texas. They ordered Zuckerberg and Meta to provide all records that discuss how the company, which owns both Facebook and Instagram, handled the illegal pictures. They have until February 23 to submit those records.

The warning screens were used on Instagram and Facebook to cover potentially sensitive images but offered an option to uncover and reveal the media. Those screens were allegedly discovered to provide the “uncover” option for illegal images of children even after a warning that the images likely depicted child abuse.

They were removed from the platform in 2023 after a Wall Street Journal report shed a light on the warning screens. It also alleged that Instagram allowed relevant hashtag searches. Platform spokespeople refused to reveal details about the creation of the labels.

Cruz had previously grilled Zuckerberg about the screens, including how frequently they had been shown and clicked. Zuckerberg said that he didn’t know but promised to personally find out and get answers. Cruz also asked in the letter whether Meta conducts its own internal investigations into users who specifically choose to see the results anyway.

The bipartisan effort comes just months after Raúl Torrez, New Mexico’s attorney general, sued both Zuckerberg and his company over alleged failures to protect children on Instagram and Facebook. According to Reuters, Torrez said his investigation revealed that these social media platforms were not “safe spaces” for minors, but instead places that are rife with trafficking and access to illegal content.

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