Lindsey Graham Confronts Mark Zuckerberg: Accuses Him of Having ‘Blood on His Hands’

During Wednesday’s congressional hearing on Big Tech and Online Child Exploitation, META CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced intense scrutiny. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) promptly criticized Zuckerberg, alleging that his platform played a role in facilitating crimes against minors.

The audience applauded when Sen. Graham said: “Mr. Zuckerberg…I know you don’t mean it to be so, but you have blood on your hands. You have a product that’s killing people.”

As the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Graham pointed to the tragic case of 17-year-old Gavin Guffey, the son of South Carolina State Rep. Brandon Guffey. Gavin took his own life after being extorted by a group from Nigeria through an app owned by Meta.

Graham said of Gavin: “They threatened the young man that if you don’t give us money, we’re going to expose these photos. He gave them money, but it wasn’t enough. They kept threatening, and he killed himself. They threatened Mr. Guffey and a son. These are bastards. By any known definition.”

In recent years, numerous suicides have been linked to cyberbullying, with Facebook and Instagram cited in police reports as platforms hosting abusive or demeaning content. Government officials have condemned tech giants for insufficient efforts in safeguarding children.

Senator Graham criticized Zuckerberg for rejecting an internal request to increase staff for monitoring child-endangering content, stating, “The bottom line is you can’t be sued. You should be.”

Graham highlighted the recent disclosure of 90 pages of internal emails revealing Meta officials advocating for extra staff to “prioritize children’s well-being and safety.” The emails indicate that Zuckerberg turned down a request for 45 new staff members to address this concern.

Threatening to initiate legislation to force Tech companies to better protect children, Sen. Graham said, “Of all the [organizations] in America we could give blanket liability protection to, this would be the last group I would pick. It is now time to repeal Section 230.”

“We live in an America in 2024 where there is no regulatory body dealing with the most profitable, biggest companies in the history of the world,” Graham added. “They can’t be sued. And there’s not one law on the books that’s meaningful in protecting the American consumer.”

Despite facing scrutiny in the past, Zuckerberg did not respond to Graham’s “blood on your hands” remark. In a pre-prepared written statement, the META CEO stated:

“Over the last eight years, we’ve built more than 30 different tools, resources and features that parents can set time limits for their teens using our apps, see who they’re following, or if they report someone for bullying.

“Mental health is a complex issue and the existing body of scientific work has not shown a causal link between using social media and young people having worse mental health outcomes.

A recent National Academies of Science report evaluated over 300 studies and found that research, ‘did not support the conclusion that social media causes changes in adolescent mental health and also suggested that social media can provide significant positive benefits when young people use it to express themselves, explore and connect with others.’”

Expecting scrutiny of his statement, Zuckerberg included:

“Still, we’re going to continue to monitor the research and use it to inform our roadmap. Keeping people safe has been a challenge since the Internet began.

“As criminals evolve their tactics, we have to evolve our defenses to comply with law enforcement to find bad actors and help bring them to justice. But the difficult reality is that no matter how much we invest or how effective our tools are, there are always more.”

There’s always more to learn and more improvements to make. We have around 40,000 people overall working on safety and security. We’ve invested more than $20 billion in this since 2016, including around $5 billion in the last year alone.

We have many teams dedicated to child safety in all three and a lot of areas,” Zuckerberg said. “Parents should have the final say on what apps are appropriate for their children and shouldn’t have to upload their ID every time. That’s what app stores are for.” 

Senator Cruz strongly criticized META’s CEO, citing a Wall Street Journal expose alleging Instagram’s involvement in aiding predators to connect with minor victims. A post by Green Lives Matter highlighted that when Senator Cruz showed Zuckerberg Instagram’s warning screen reading “See results anyway,” the crowd audibly gasped.