On November 7th, 2023, a critical Senate subcommittee hearing unfolded, featuring Arturo Bejar, a former Facebook security chief and a concerned father. His testimony revealed alarming safety gaps on Instagram, directly affecting young users, including his own child. This session is a wake-up call for all parents about the hidden dangers lurking on social media platforms.
Senator Richard Blumenthal set the tone, highlighting the grim reality:
“Rates of teens suffering from suicides, hospitalizations for self-harm and depression have skyrocketed… and his daughter is one of them.”
As parents, it’s vital to understand that these are not mere statistics; they represent real dangers our children could be facing.
Bejar, merging his professional expertise with personal concern, shared a troubling narrative:
“I am a dad with firsthand experience of a child who experienced unwanted sexual advances on Instagram.”
“It is unacceptable that a 13 year old girl gets propositioned on social media. Unfortunately, it happens all too frequently today.”
This incident isn’t just a story; it’s a stark reminder of the threats our children encounter daily on these platforms.
His account highlighted a major oversight in Instagram’s safety policies. Bejar released an October 2021 memo to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg informing him that:
- 22% of 13-15 year olds were the target of bullying.
- 39.4% of 13-15 year olds experienced negative comparison.
- 24.4% of 13-15 year old received unwanted advances.
in the last 7 days
However, attempts to raise these issues with Zuckerberg were met with silence, raising serious questions about the company’s commitment to child safety.
“The reaction was not constructive… Mark Zuckerberg never replied,”
Bejar revealed, pointing to a worrying lack of responsiveness at the highest levels.
But Bejar didn’t stop at identifying problems. He called for a robust legislative framework demanding social media companies like Meta to set clear safety standards, especially for younger users. His vision is one where our children’s safety is not an afterthought but a priority.
He suggested practical measures, such as better reporting mechanisms for inappropriate content, to make platforms like Instagram safer for our kids. These are not just technical fixes but essential steps toward creating a digital environment where our children can explore, learn, and connect safely.
This hearing is a crucial moment in the ongoing conversation about social media’s role in protecting its users, particularly the younger ones. Bejar’s blend of personal experience and professional knowledge paints a clear picture: the urgent need for change in how platforms like Instagram approach user security and privacy. For us parents, it’s a call to action to be more vigilant and demand safer digital spaces for our children.
A Message from Attorney Matt Bergman in Light of the Recent Senate Hearing
The explosive testimony by Arturo Bejar and the documents he released confirms what we at Social Media Victims Law Center have been saying for the past two years: Meta knows that Instagram is harming kids but had made the intention decision to elevate profits over public safety. The testimony of Arturo Bejar, underscores a critical and troubling reality – platforms like Instagram can have profound negative effects on our children’s mental health and physical well-being.
As a parent, you should know that these concerns are not just hypothetical; they are very real and have been acknowledged at the highest levels.
At the Social Media Victims Law Center, we have seen first-hand the carnage that the dangerously defective design of social media products has inflicted on our kids- from addiction, depression, anxiety, sexual abuse, eating disorders, accidental death, and suicide.
This hearing amplifies the need for accountability. It’s a call to action for Americans of all political persuasions to protect our children from the harms of social media. The Social Media Victims Law Center stands ready to support families affected by social media harms and to hold companies like Meta accountable for their platforms’ impact on young users.
Arturo Bejar Whistleblower Document “Smoking Guns”:
- “Bad Experiences are Common and Frequent” – p. 5-14
- “Warnings Can Protect Kids from Harmful Material”. – p. 23-24
- “Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg directly informed that a fourth of teen Instagram users received unwanted sexual advances in past week.” – p. 28-29
- Instagram head Adam Mosseri directly informed that teens are being sexually abused and suffering mental health harms from Instagram”. – p. 28-29
- “The life of a 13-14 year old”. – p. 35-41