The student news site of Whitney Young Magnet High School in Chicago, Illinois.

BEACON

The student news site of Whitney Young Magnet High School in Chicago, Illinois.

BEACON

The student news site of Whitney Young Magnet High School in Chicago, Illinois.

BEACON

Rat Aquatics Initiative (Bacon)

2024 Fashion Forecast: SHEIN is In

May 15, 2024

Whitney Young’s Revolutionary Solution For Rat Squatters (Bacon)

Whitney Young’s Revolutionary Solution For Rat Squatters (Bacon)

May 9, 2024

The need for less strict security at Whitney Young (Bacon)

May 9, 2024

The Epidemic Sweeps Through the Classrooms of Whitney Young (Bacon)

The Epidemic Sweeps Through the Classrooms of Whitney Young (Bacon)

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Foot Traffic Guide

Foot Traffic Guide

May 9, 2024

Things Aren’t Going Too Well in the Metaverse

In 2006, Facebook experienced its first controversy when it added the “News Feed” feature to its website. This feature, which allowed users to automatically see public updates to the profiles they followed, raised concerns regarding user privacy as many found the activity timestamps to be intrusive. Although it took a few years, Facebook eventually responded to the backlash by creating the option to disable the feature. 

But by no means did this resolution mark the end of Facebook’s controversies. Since its conception, the social media platform has been the subject of multiple criticisms regarding issues ranging from its treatment of employees to its handling of user data. In the last 7 years, Facebook, which rebranded as Meta in 2021, has testified in front of Congress 33 times. 

And this streak doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon: on January 24th, executives from multiple social media sites including Meta were called to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding their platform’s impact on online child safety. In one of the most tense hearings in recent history, senators from both sides of the aisle came together to question the executives on their platforms’ involvement in the spread of child sexual abuse material. One heated exchange ended with Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive of Meta, standing up to apologize to the families of abuse victims who filled the audience. Prompted by Senator Josh Hawley, a Republican from Missouri, Zuckerberg addressed the audience, saying, “I’m sorry for everything you have all been through. No one should go through the things that your families have suffered.” – an apology that had never been articulated even after years of hearings regarding social media’s effect on children. 

This congressional crackdown on social media giants comes after the U.S. surgeon general established social media as a cause of a youth mental health crisis last year. Citing children’s vulnerability during this crucial period of brain development, the surgeon general called for urgent action by tech companies, policy makers, and families in protecting American youth. 

But even as hearings such as these have become more ubiquitous, a clear path forward has yet to be forged. Linda Yaccarino, the chief executive of X, and Evan Spielberg, chief executive of Snap, agreed to back the Kids Online Safety Act, which would require tech companies to take “reasonable measures” to prevent children on their platforms from harm, but other executive officers, including Shou Chew of TikTok and Jason Citron, were less enthusiastic, indicating concerns about how the bill may conflict with free speech concerns. Differences such as these have played a factor in no substantial federal legislation regarding Big Tech accountability being passed over the last few years. Regardless, Dick Durbin, a senator from Illinois and the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, closed the hearing suggesting a more productive future: “Every single senator voted unanimously in favor of the five pieces of legislation we discussed today,” he said, “It ought to tell everyone who follows Capital Hill in Washington a pretty stark message.”

 

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