On the 31st of January 2024, the CEOs of Meta, Discord, X, Snap and TikTok were called to a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing after it was revealed that online child sexual exploitation was rising. At the hearing families whose children self-harmed and/or committed suicide as a result of social media use wanted to hear what the CEOs would say in their defence; senators from both parties inquired what measures were being put in place to ensure online child safety.
The 3-hour hearing had meager success, some would say. After that, one journalist voiced his final thoughts, and we would agree: at this point in time, the US has virtually no laws regarding the regulation of social media companies. These (almost) monopolist giants have immense power and influence, and both parties are somewhat at a loss on what specific regulations to propose to ensure these companies are more regulated. The US debate on the freedom of expression versus the infringement on the freedom of speech (as these future laws might be interpreted by some of the American public) is making these legal proposals difficult to navigate.
We look forward to more stringent rules applied globally, relating to the use of social media, especially as it pertains to cyber-crime and child sexual exploitation.