WASHINGTON. — Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has apologised to families who say their children have been harmed by social media, during a fiery hearing in the US Senate.

Mr Zuckerberg — who runs Instagram and Facebook — turned to them and said “no-one should go through” what they had.

He and the bosses of TikTok, Snap, X and Discord were questioned for almost four hours by senators from both parties.

Lawmakers wanted to know what they are doing to protect children online.

Legislation is currently going through Congress which aims to hold social media companies to account for material posted on their platforms.

Wednesday’s hearing was a rare opportunity for the US senators to question tech bosses.

Mr Zuckerberg and TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew voluntarily agreed to testify — but the heads of Snap, X (formerly Twitter) and messaging platform Discord initially refused and were sent government-issued subpoenas.

Behind the five tech bosses sat families who said their children had self-harmed or killed themselves as a result of social media content.

They made their feelings known throughout, hissing when the CEOs entered and applauding when lawmakers asked tough questions.

While the hearing mostly focused on the protection of children from online sexual exploitation, the questions varied widely as the senators took advantage of having five powerful executives there under oath.

TikTok — which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance — CEO Mr Chew was asked whether his company shared US users’ data with the Chinese government, which he denied.

US Senator Tom Cotton asked Mr Chew, who is from Singapore, if he had ever belonged to the Chinese Communist Party.

“Senator, I’m Singaporean. No,” Mr Chew replied.

Mr Cotton then asked, “Have you ever been associated or affiliated with Chinese Communist Party?”

Mr Chew responded: “No, senator. Again, I’m Singaporean.”

He added that as a father of three young children he knew the issues under discussion were “horrific and the nightmare of every parent”.

He admitted his own children did not use TikTok because of the rules in Singapore which bar under-13s from creating accounts. — BBC.

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