U.S. Senators Grilled Social Media CEOs. Will Anything Change?

February 13, 2024

Was it political progress or just political theater? The recent Senate hearing with social media CEOs led to astonishing moments — including Mark Zuckerberg’s public apology to families who lost children following social media abuse. Our panel of experts, including Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, untangles the explosive hearing, and offers a look ahead, as well. How will this hearing impact protocol within these social media companies? How will it impact legislation? In short: will anything change?

Clarification: Julie says that shortly after the hearing, Meta’s stock price had the biggest increase of any company in the stock market’s history. It was the biggest one-day gain by any company in Wall Street history.

Correction: Frances says it takes Snap three or four minutes to take down exploitative content. In Snap's most recent transparency report, they list six minutes as the median turnaround time to remove exploitative content.


Camille Carlton is the Policy Director at Center for Humane Technology. In this role, she steers the organization’s policy strategy, supporting policy initiatives that help align technology with public interest.

Named Business Insider’s AI 100 in 2023, Camille has been published in outlets such as Science and Tech Policy Press and has been featured in The New York Times. Before joining CHT, Camille examined issues of platform power and accountability, governance, and shared prosperity at UC Berkeley.

Camille is an Aspen Tech Policy Hub Fellow and holds a master’s degree in economic development from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Frances Haugen is an advocate for accountability & transparency in social media. Born in Iowa City, Iowa, Frances is the daughter of two professors and grew up attending the Iowa caucuses with her parents, instilling a strong sense of pride in democracy and responsibility for civic participation.

Frances holds a degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from Olin College and an MBA from Harvard University. She is a specialist in algorithmic product management, having worked on ranking algorithms at Google, Pinterest, Yelp, and Facebook. In 2019, she was recruited to Facebook to be the lead Product Manager on the Civic Misinformation team, which dealt with issues related to democracy and misinformation, and later also worked on counter-espionage.

During her time at Facebook, Frances became increasingly alarmed by the choices the company makes, prioritizing their own profits over public safety and putting people's lives at risk. As a last resort and at great personal risk, Frances made the courageous decision to blow the whistle on Facebook. The initial reporting was done by the Wall Street Journal in what became known as “The Facebook Files”.

Since going public, Frances has testified in front of the US Congress, UK and EU Parliaments, the French Senate, and National Assembly, and has engaged with lawmakers internationally on how to best address the negative externalities of social media platforms.

Frances has filed a series of complaints with the US Federal Government relating to Facebook (now named ‘Meta’), claiming that the company has been misleading the public and investors on how it handles issues such as climate change, misinformation, and hate speech, and the impact of its services on the mental health of children and young adults.

Frances fundamentally believes that the problems we are facing today with social media are solvable and is dedicated to uniting people around the world to bring about change. We can have social media that brings out the best in humanity.

Julie Scelfo is the Founder and Executive Director of Get Media Savvy, a nonprofit working to establish a healthy media environment for kids and families. She is an award-winning journalist, a media ecologist, and a parent who believes in prioritizing people over technology. Scelfo was moved to start Get Media Savvy after realizing how today’s dysfunctional media environment is contributing to the youth mental health crisis. Now she’s helping people push back against media addiction and keep our kids and society healthy.

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