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Republicans Continue to Fight Big Tech and Protect our Children


05.19.21

Washington, D.C. — Energy and Commerce Republicans, led by Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers, continued fighting this week to protect our children’s well-being and mental health from Big Tech.

NPR: At a hearing this March on Capitol Hill, the Republican congresswoman from Washington confronted Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Google CEO Sundar Pichai with a list of statistics: From 2011 to 2018, rates of teen depression increased by more than 60%, and from 2009 to 2015, emergency room admissions for self-harm among 10- to 14-year-old girls tripled.

It’s a battle for their development. It’s a battle for their mental health — and ultimately a battle for their safety,” McMorris Rodgers told the tech leaders.

“I don’t think that the research is conclusive on that,” replied Zuckerberg.

It’s a position that he and his company, which is working on expanding its offerings to even younger children, have held for years. But mental health researchers whom NPR spoke with disagree.

[…]

In the interview with NPR, Rodgers stated: “They seem to be more concerned about their current business model, and they have become very wealthy under their current business model. But the fact of the matter is we’re seeing more and more evidence … that their current business model is harming our kids.”

WSJ’s The Journal Podcast: Back in March, lawmakers at the House of Representatives held a hearing with the heads of Facebook, Google, and Twitter.

The title of the hearing was ‘Disinformation Nation…’ It was shaping up to be kind of the classic DC hearing that was split along partisan lines. But instead of sticking to the topic of the hearing, the questioning took an unexpected turn. About 40 minutes in, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Republican from Eastern Washington, began to talk about social media’s impact on children:

“Do you know what convinced me Big Tech is a destructive force? Its how you’ve abused your power to manipulate and harm our children.”

[…]

“I have two daughters and a son with a disability. Let me be clear: I do not want their future manipulated by your algorithm I do not want their self-worth defined by the engagement tools you built to attract their attention.”

And then, kind of out of nowhere, everyone started talking about the affect on kids.

One thing Facebook is thinking about developing to encourage [online] interactions is the kids version of Instagram. Florida Republican Gus Bilirakis brought it up at the hearing:

“Mr. Zuckerberg, we have heard you acknowledge mistakes about your products before. There are now media reports of an Instagram for under 13 being launched. My goodness, I find that very concerning targeting this particular age bracket.”

CLICK HERE to read the letters sent to Facebook, Google, and Twitter requesting information regarding internal research or studies conducted by the companies to better understand their product’s effect on children’s mental health. 

CLICK HERE to read more coverage on Republicans keeping the pressure on Big Tech.  

CLICK HERE to read Rodgers’s interview with Axios on Big Tech harming children.  

CLICK HERE for more highlights from Republicans during the March 25 Big Tech hearing. 

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