Republican West Virginia Rep. David McKinley slammed Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg during a Thursday hearing after he said he found examples of drugs being sold on Instagram.
McKinley began by telling Zuckerberg, whose company also owns Instagram, that during a 2018 hearing the CEO had knowledge of “clear standards” preventing illegal drugs from being sold on Facebook. During that hearing, McKinley said, Zuckerberg apologized after being shown examples of drugs being sold on Facebook and said that the social media company needed to do a better job controlling those posts.
“Now, three years later, it appears a shell game is emerging,” McKinley said. “Facebook seems to have cleaned up its act, but you’re now allowing Instagram, one of your subsidiaries, to become the new vehicle. Even though Instagram has the same policies against the sale of illegal substances, you’re still allowing bad actors to push pills on your site.” (RELATED: Democrats Accuse Facebook Of ‘Knowingly’ Facilitating Extremists, Call Platform ‘Breeding Ground’ For ‘Discord’)
McKinley then showed several examples that his staff had found of people selling oxycodone, Ritalin, Adderall and Xanax on Instagram. The representative said that the posts had been active since the fall of 2020.
“If we can find posts this easily, shame on you for not finding them for yourself,” McKinley told the Facebook CEO. “Apparently, you’re not taking the warnings of Congress seriously.”
“After drug manufacturers dumped millions of pills into our community, killing thousands, ravaging families, and destroying livelihoods, Congress responded by passing laws to hold them liable,” the representative continued. “If a retail store is selling cigarettes to underage kids, that store is held liable. So why shouldn’t you be held liable as well?”
“Do you think you’re above the law?” McKinley asked. “You’re knowingly allowing this poison to be sold on your platform into our communities, to our children, to our vulnerable adults. Maybe it’s time for Congress to have an adult conversation about this loss of liability protection and the need to reform our anti-trust laws. I don’t think Congress wants to tell you how to run your company, but maybe it should.”
Zuckerberg responded by saying that his company doesn’t want any of that content on its platforms and that they have built systems that are “largely quite effective” to remove it. He compared the large scale of Facebook’s content moderation to a “police force in a major city” in the sense that a police force is not expected to stop every crime.
“How many more families are going to die?” McKinley asked. “How many more children are going to be addicted while you still study the problem?”
“Congressman, we’re not sitting and studying the problem, we’re building effective systems that work across both Facebook and Instagram,” Zuckerberg said. “But what I’m saying is that I don’t think that we can expect that any platform will find every instance of harmful content. I think we should hold the platforms to be responsible for building generally effective systems at moderating these types of content.”