Youth-led coalition Design it for Us: “The latest improvements to the Kids Online Safety Act are welcome changes that would ensure this bill cannot be weaponized to restrict civil liberties – the result of the tireless advocacy of young people desperate for change to protect our generation online.”
The advocates wearing the shirts were from Design it for Us and Young People’s Alliance. YPA’s Ava Smithing told SFGATE they wanted Zuckerberg to see the shirts and feel the impact of his platforms’ policies on young people’s mental health.
That was driven home by protesters at Wednesday’s hearing who wore T-shirts that read “I’m worth more than $270,” a reference to an internal Meta email disclosed in litigation brought by state attorneys general claiming that “the lifetime value of a [13-year-old] teen is roughly $270.” Demeaning though it sounds, this is merely standard business talk meaning that Meta assumes it will capture $270 in total for every teenage user over the course of their lives. But it shows exactly how the company views its customers.
Behind him, a group of advocates wore shirts that said “I’m worth more than $270” — a reference to a line from a Meta internal company email that said, “The lifetime value of a 13 y/o teen is roughly $270.”
One thing tech companies could do to show their goodwill, suggested Zamaan Qureshi, co-chair of youth-led coalition Design It For Us, is to “get their trade organizations to back off” from lobbying against the bills. Of the witnesses, only Snap broke ranks before the hearing from peers and its own trade group NetChoice by endorsing KOSA. During the hearing, X CEO Linda Yaccarino also offered her support for the bill. Microsoft, which was not summoned to the hearing, endorsed KOSA the day before.
“Someone as powerful as her, someone as strong as her, was impacted by Big Tech’s negligence,” Arielle Geismar, a team member of Design It For Us, said at a press conference by the activist group after the hearing. “As a young woman, I am horrified by the potential this could happen to me.”
“When you’re faced with really important safety and privacy decisions, the revenue in the bottom line should not be the first factor that these companies are considering,” said Zamaan Qureshi, co-chair of Design It For Us, a youth-led coalition advocating for safer social media. “These companies have had opportunities to do this before they failed to do that. So independent regulation needs to step in.”
Zamaan Qureshi, co-chair of the advocacy group Design It For Us, called Zuckerberg’s apology “a pretty insane moment” during an interview with CNN. “I think it was pretty emotional for a lot of people in the room. You’re in here, you can kind of feel that tension right now. It certainly feels like there’s a tide turning in trying to get something done here.”
Sen. Marsha Blackburn confronted Zuckerberg on internal Meta documents suggesting that the company estimates the lifetime value of a teen user at $270. “How could you possibly even have that thought? It is astounding to me,” Blackburn said, before recognizing a group of youth advocates in the audience and inviting them to stand.
Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee also went after Zuckerberg about an internal Meta document that placed a lifetime value to the company of a young user at $270. “How could you possibly even have that thought? It is astounding to me,” Blackburn said. She then invited members of the gallery to stand who wore T-shirts that read “I am worth more than $270.”