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Fighting Big Tech: The Tide is Turning

Updated: Feb 15

Title graphic "The Tide is Turning"

A couple of weeks ago, I had the amazing privilege (along with my son)  to serve the Wired Human Youth Coalition (WHYC) to help coordinate a special advocacy trip to D.C. in advance of the historic Senate Judiciary Hearing on Jan. 31 with the five social media CEOs from X, TikTok, Snap, Discord, and Meta. We had a total of 8 students with WHYC, ranging in age from 13 to 21. It was an incredible few days fighting Big Tech, and I wanted to share my takeaways. READ TO THE END FOR AN EXCITING LEGAL UPDATE!

Parents and Students are Fighting Big Tech in Unprecedented Numbers

One of the big differences in this advocacy trip was how many other allies were also on the Hill to raise awareness on the issues. There was a tremendous sense of purpose and sobriety as hundreds of people from the movement descended upon D.C.. Dozens of parent-survivors who had lost their children to social media harm were there to share their stories, walking around with big pins of beautiful faces on their clothing. It took my breath away and moved me to tears a few times when my 19-year-old son happened to stand next to one of them. His face is just a few years older than the ones on the pins. These parents have been through the unimaginable, and though their grief was evident, so was their courage. They are turning their loss into action.

The hearing room that Wednesday was packed, with hundreds of people in line long before the doors opened. Senator Durbin commented that it was the largest turnout in his recollection for any hearing. The seats were filled by parents, survivors, and online safety advocates—many of whom have dedicated their careers to protecting kids online. (Sadly, I missed out on a seat in the room since two of our students had a live interview on Fox News at a conflicting time across the street. By the time we walked over to the hearing, there were no more seats, and a long line of people waiting to get in if anyone left early. We decided to watch on C-Span in the cafeteria directly below the hearing room—which actually allowed us the freedom to discuss, vent, and loudly react in real-time… something we would not have been able to do in the hearing room). 

Zuckerberg apologizes to parents at Jan. 31 Big Tech hearing

The questioning was direct, as many of you have seen through the various clips circulating around. For those from our team who did make it into the hearing room, the effect of what unfolded before their eyes was quite powerful, especially the moment when Mark Zuckerberg turned to face parents. This proceeding was the first time the Wired Human Youth Coalition students had watched a Senate committee hearing in its entirety, and they were riveted. Some of our quietest students had much to say in response to Zuckerberg’s assertion that science has not proven the link between social media use and poor mental health. (Hint: they think he’s full of $%#*$) They also remarked about how none of the CEOs admitted to the problems or the failures of their platforms or talked candidly about improvements needed. The students felt the big wigs did not show adequate and sincere remorse for so many being harmed. They also learned that only Snap has invited youth to the table to discuss improvements and endorsed the Kids Online Safey Act (KOSA).  (On the other hand, Snap is under fire by safety advocates for this PR campaign aired during the Grammys and the Superbowl: Less social media. More Snapchat.)

One of the key weapons the WHYC students brought with them to D.C. was a collection of stories from their peers and friends about how social media has impacted their generation. Of the stories submitted, a common thread was how young each person was when they began using social media. The most repeated answer was 11. ELEVEN. We’d love to see Big Tech face accountability for all of the underage users currently on their platform, as it seems the earlier the entry, the greater the harm experienced. 

Something else that impacted the WHYC students deeply was hearing the stories of the survivors in person who had traveled near and far to be there. Our team experienced the raw emotion up close and in person, something you just don’t get on a video clip. We got to listen in on a press conference with survivors and also attend a rally led by Design It For Us (a coalition of college students speaking out), that featured parent-survivors, lawmakers, and the Meta whistleblower, Arturo Bejar. Our students saw the sincerity of those who are fighting Big Tech.

Youth advocates, parent-survivors and lawmakers at rally in D.C.
WHYC students stand alongside parent-survivors and other youth advocates.

Here’s why I think the tide is turning:

  • We are past the tipping point of convincing people social media is harmful. Public consensus is there. We saw exactly zero detractors or protestors in all of the frenzy around those two days. ZERO. Only advocates and allies. That sent a powerful message.

  • Every single Senate Judiciary Committee member is in agreement that Big Tech is out of hand. There was a comment during the hearing by Senator Durbin to the CEOs, “Take a look at the composition and membership of this Judiciary Committee and imagine if you will that there is anything that we could agree on unanimously.” We are hopeful that the rest of the Senate body will show up for our kids and families once we are able to get KOSA to a vote (or any other online safety bill, for that matter. There are several that have passed unanimously out of committee!).

  • Students are waking up. They are connecting the dots about how they’ve been exploited for profit. They’re also realizing that Gen Alpha stands to inherit the worst of the worst with the rise of AI-generated sexual abuse content. Some brave teens and young adults are ditching social media altogether or repeatedly deleting it from their phones to take lengthy breaks. They are also uniting to publicly call out the lies and manipulation of Big Tech (see the work of Young People’s Alliance and Design it For Us).

Thank you to all of you who followed along on the Wired Human social media and who prayed for us while we were there. We were encouraged and strengthened during those two days, though they were mentally and physically exhausting. This fight is not over! Today, Feb. 15, we are hearing updates that there are enough Senators supporting KOSA to pass this legislation (including leader Chuck Schumer). We will update you on any further ways you can be involved as we push to get KOSA to a full-floor vote, and then get the House of Representatives on board.


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