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The Morning After: Senate tells social media CEOs they have ‘blood on their hands’

Senators said the leaders of Meta, TikTok, Snap, Discord and X have failed to protect children.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

The CEOs of Meta, Snap, Discord, X and TikTok testified at a high-stakes Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on child exploitation online. During the hearing, Mark Zuckerberg, Evan Spiegel, Jason Citron, Linda Yaccarino and Shou Chew spent nearly four hours being grilled by lawmakers about their records on child safety.

Judiciary Committee Chair, Senator Dick Durbin, noted Discord’s Citron “only accepted services of his subpoena” after US Marshals went to the company’s headquarters. Compared to previous hearings with tech CEOs, it was a heavier setting. The room was filled with parents of children who had been victims of online exploitation.

“Discord has been used to groom, abduct and abuse children,” Durbin said. “Meta’s Instagram helped connect and promote a network of pedophiles. Snapchat’s disappearing messages have been co-opted by criminals who financially extort young victims. TikTok has become a, quote, platform of choice for predators to access, engage and groom children for abuse. And the prevalence of CSAM (child sexual abuse material) on X has grown as the company has gutted its trust and safety workforce.”

Of course, it wouldn’t be a US Senate hearing without politicians also embarrassing themselves: Senator John Kennedy asked Snap’s Evan Spiegel if he knew the meaning of “yada yada yada” (Spiegel claimed he was “not familiar” with the phrase). “Can we agree… what you do is what you believe and everything else is just cottage cheese,” Kennedy asked. (… What?)

X’s Yaccarino, who repeatedly claimed X was a “brand new company” (and not Twitter with a poorly received rebrand), said the platform was considering adding parental controls. “Being a 14-month-old company, we have reprioritized child protection and safety measures,” she said. “And we have just begun to talk about and discuss how we can enhance those with parental controls.”

Twitter launched in 2006.

— Mat Smith

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Universal Music could pull Taylor Swift and Drake from TikTok

The group said it’s a ‘bad deal that undervalues music.’

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TMA (Buda Mendes/TAS23 via Getty Images)

Universal Music Group is threatening to pull all of its music from TikTok today following a breakdown in negotiations over royalties. The company wrote in an open letter that TikTok wanted to pay a “fraction” of the rate paid by other social media sites. “As our negotiations continued, TikTok attempted to bully us into accepting a deal worth less than the previous deal, far less than fair market value and not reflective of their exponential growth.”

The sides have reportedly been in negotiations for the past year. Such deals are worth billions annually to music publishing companies – and Universal is the world’s largest record label. If a deal isn’t struck, TikTok creators would lose access to songs from stars including Taylor Swift, Billie Eilish, the Weeknd, Drake and others.

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Persona 3 Reload is a surprising dose of 2000s nostalgia

Wired headphones. DVD players. Internet cafes.

With Persona 3 Reload, developer Altus chose the most confusing (and influential) entry in the series to remake. There are some big changes you may not even notice if you haven’t played the 2006 original recently, with new English language voice actors (all the Japanese VAs return from the original) and, interestingly, the most voiced scenes from any game in the Persona series. Oh, it’s also incredibly gorgeous at times. But damn, it makes me feel old.

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Hideo Kojima teases a new action-espionage game for PlayStation

No, it won’t be a Metal Gear Solid title.

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TMA (Jordan Anderson via Getty Images)

Hideo Kojima appeared on PlayStation’s State of Play not only to give Death Stranding 2 another nudge but also to say he’s developing a brand-new game for PlayStation. It’ll be an action-espionage title codenamed PHYSINT — so nothing to do with the Metal Gear Solid series that made his name. Kojima Productions has started early work on the project, but it won’t go into full production until the team finishes Death Stranding 2. Which is looking bonkers.

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The latest Xbox controllers seem to be inspired by bowling balls

Just the colors, not the shape.

The Xbox Design Lab is neat. You can customize the colors of your controller pretty much however you like, with more options for the Vapor series. The six top case options have swirling color patterns more typically seen at your local bowling alley. If that still exists.

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