Hawley Questions Facebook Whistleblower on Big Tech’s Rampant Child Exploitation Problems

Tuesday, November 07, 2023

Today U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) heard testimony from Meta Whistleblower Arturo Béjar, the former Director of Engineering for Protect and Care at Facebook. The hearing took place in the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and the Law, where Senator Hawley serves as Ranking Member.

During his opening remarks, Senator Hawley called out Big Tech for their extensive lobbying efforts to kill any legislation attempting to regulate the industry.

“Big tech is the biggest, most powerful lobbying in the United States Congress,”said Senator Hawley. “They spend millions upon millions upon millions of dollars every year to lobby this body, and the the truth is—as every reporter in this room knows, and I hope you’ll report it after this hearing—they do it successfully. They successfully shut down every meaningful piece of legislation every year.”

He continued, “It is time for it to be broken, and the only way I know to break it is to bring the truth forward. And that’s why we are so glad Mr. Béjar that you are here today to do it.”

Click here or above to watch the full exchange.

Senator Hawley also questioned Béjar about a 2021 memo that Béjar had written to Facebook executives highlighting the platform’s rampant child protection failures.

“In that memo, you disclosed to them that according to your own research, one in eight children, children now, had experienced unwanted sexual advances within the last seven days,” said Senator Hawley. “And about one in three—I think it was 27%—had experienced unwanted sexual advances outside of the seven day window.”

When Senator Hawley asked Béjar about the executives’ responses to his email, Béjar revealed that executives at Facebook, including Mark Zuckerberg himself, ignored his findings. Senator Hawley stressed that change would only come through legal accountability:

“If you want to incentivize changes to these companies, you have got to allow people to sue them. […] And the other thing I’d just say is, on the money—the money that is flowing into this Capitol from Big Tech is obscene, it’s totally obscene—and if we really wanted to change something, we’d get the corporate money out of politics,” Senator Hawley concluded.