- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 25, 2021

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Washington Republican, told Facebook, Google and Twitter’s CEOs that their platforms make her fear for children’s lives.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s top-ranking Republican argued that the tech platforms have contributed to suicide and anxiety, hurt children and broken her trust. 

“Do you know what convinced me Big Tech is a destructive force? It’s how you’ve abused your power to manipulate and harm our children,” Ms. McMorris Rodgers said at a hearing on Thursday. “Your platforms are my biggest fear as a parent. I’m a mom of three school-aged kids, and my husband and I are fighting the Big Tech battles in our household every day. It’s a battle for their development, a battle for their mental health, and ultimately, a battle for their safety.”

Ms. McMorris Rodgers recounted stories of other parents telling her about their depressed children who never get off their devices and spoke of a college student that Ms. McMorris Rodgers said she heard had lost nine friends to suicide. 

“Our kids, the users, are the product. You, Big Tech, are not advocates for children,” said Ms. McMorris Rodgers. “You exploit and profit off of them.”

In his opening statement, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said those pointing to social media as responsible for the country’s ills were misguided. Mr. Zuckerberg was not responding to Ms. McMorris Rodgers directly but sought to counter the argument that his company or industry was responsible for others’ actions. 

“Facebook is successful because people have a deep desire to connect and share, not to stand apart and fight, and we believe that connectivity and togetherness are more powerful ideals than division and discord and that technology can be part of the solution to the challenges our society is facing,” Mr. Zuckerberg said. “And we are ready to work with you to move beyond hearings and get started on real reform.” 

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