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Phoenix 11 Statement: Meta’s Response Following the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing Unacceptable for Survivors

For Immediate Release

In January 2024, ahead of the United States Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Online Child Sexual Exploitation, the Phoenix 11 submitted a statement with six questions for Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and Chairman of Meta, to consider in light of his December 2023 decision to deploy default end-to-end encryption (E2EE) across Meta’s messenger platforms1. We would like to express our gratitude to Ranking Member Senator Lindsey Graham for submitting one of our questions for Mr. Zuckerberg to the record.

We are survivors of horrific acts of child sexual abuse that were perpetrated against us as infants, toddlers, and young children. That abuse was documented via technology and disseminated to perpetrators online without our consent and in some cases, without our knowledge. As survivors whose imagery continues to circulate on internet platforms like Meta’s, our hope was that Mr. Zuckerberg would take the time to address any question fully and sincerely. We, along with current child victims and survivors, bear the consequences of his answer.

We asked: “What is Meta’s plan to prioritize the privacy of children and survivors whose child sexual abuse material lives on their platforms, exposing the worst moments of their lives to strangers every day.”

In response, Mr. Zuckerberg chose to piece together a copy and pasted answer from other questions posed2, reiterating Meta’s policies on teen accounts, and using the opportunity to tout its new nudity protection feature3.

We cannot emphasize enough how insufficient and irrelevant this response is to the ongoing threats and revictimization we continue to suffer. What does the distribution of child sexual abuse images have to do with online safety measures for teens? As grown adults we and other survivors continue to suffer the consequences of the worst moments of our lives proliferating via images and videos on the internet. It is unacceptable that the countless children who are currently being sexually abused and recorded, who are then exploited as imagery of that abuse is shared online, did not receive more consideration than his flippant response. We all deserved better than this. It appears to us that the amount of effort put into answering our question equals the amount of effort put into prioritizing the removal of child sexual abuse imagery on Meta’s platforms.

The Phoenix 11 would like to tell Mr. Zuckerberg why we think his platforms continue to function as a haven for child predators. Parental controls do not work if the people who are abusing and exploiting you are parents, family members, and/or trusted adults. Tools for teen accounts, such as Take It Down, are irrelevant when you have never been in possession of the imagery which depicts sexual abuse perpetrated against you as a child. Nudity blurring features do absolutely nothing to address the existence and offenders’ purposeful spread of child sexual abuse imagery on Meta’s platforms. Pedophiles are not going to blur the nude abuse photos they are purposefully sharing. In our opinion, Meta still has an epidemic of this imagery because, to date, its response is inadequate to the scale and scope of its problem.

Prioritization of the removal of child sexual abuse imagery on Meta’s platforms must include proactive detection of known child sexual abuse material on both encrypted and unencrypted spaces. Mr. Zuckerberg and various Meta executives have repeated for years that device-side scanning and privacy for law-abiding consumers via encryption cannot coexist4. Meta’s new nudity scanning feature proves that they in fact can do both when they choose to. We are encouraged to see that this is possible, and we expect device-side scanning to also be used to detect and remove known child sexual abuse material in the same encrypted spaces.

It is our opinion that until Mr. Zuckerberg and Meta are held accountable and regulated by governments, business decisions regarding detection of child sexual abuse material will continue to be overridden by profitability, exacerbating the suffering of victims and survivors. The Phoenix 11 acknowledges Meta’s commitment to engagement with Senator Graham’s office regarding his bipartisan legislation S. 1207, the EARN IT Act5, which we have endorsed since its inception. We do note that we are skeptical of endorsement given that in 2024, Meta spent more money than ever before in their Q1 lobbying efforts, which included multiple online child safety bills and amending Section 230 immunity6. We believe that Meta will continue to make the choice to prioritize profit before children and survivors even while stating, “child exploitation is a horrific crime that we work to fight aggressively on and off our platforms7,” to the United States Senate Judiciary Committee.

Mr. Zuckerberg cannot be allowed to use his platform reporting numbers to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children as an indicator of extensive proactive efforts to address child sexual abuse material and exploitation without also acknowledging the obvious implication that his platforms appear to be havens for millions of child predators8. Choosing to introduce default E2EE without detection of known child sexual abuse material might allow Mr. Zuckerberg to avoid facing this implication and decrease Meta’s reporting numbers, but it will not erase victims and survivors, and it will not silence us. Given Meta’s choice to act only when regulation demands it9, we urge Congress to pass legislation that prioritizes the countless child victims and survivors that Meta has and will continue to fail as long as the option to do so exists.


A group of 11 survivors of child sexual abuse who have banded together to challenge inadequate responses to the prevalence of child sexual abuse images on the internet

  1. 1 Phoenix 11, Letter to Senate Judiciary Committee, 1/11/24,
  2. 2 Senate Judiciary Committee QFR Responses – Zuckerberg; 4/22/24, p. 20, 22, 23, 30, 41, 154, 156, 157, 164, 192, 193, 194, 195, 196, 205, 225, 242, 243, 244, 254, 255, 256, 267, 268;
  3. 3 Senate Judiciary Committee QFR Responses – Zuckerberg; 4/22/24, p. 54 – 57,
  4. 4 Gail Kent, Hard Questions: Why Does Facebook Enable End-to-End Encryption, Meta, 5/7/18,
  5. 5 Senate Judiciary Committee QFR Responses – Zuckerberg, 4/22/24, p. 38,
  6. 6 United States Senate Office of Public Records, 4/22/24, Meta 2024 Q1 Lobbying Report,
  7. 7 Senate Judiciary Committee QFR Responses – Zuckerberg, 4/22/24, p. 104,
  8. 8 CyberTipline 2023 Report, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, April 2024,
  9. 9 Senate Judiciary Committee QFR Responses – Zuckerberg, 4/22/24, p. 12-14,

Media contact:
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About the Phoenix 11: The Phoenix 11 is a group of survivors whose child sexual abuse was recorded, and in the majority of cases, distributed online. This group has banded together as a powerful force to challenge the inadequate responses to the prevalence of child sexual abuse images online.

About the Canadian Centre for Child Protection: The Canadian Centre for Child Protection (C3P) is a national charity dedicated to the personal safety of all children. The organization’s goal is to reduce the sexual abuse and exploitation of children through programs, services, and resources for Canadian families, educators, child serving organizations, law enforcement, and other parties. C3P also operates, Canada’s tipline to report child sexual abuse and exploitation on the internet, and Project Arachnid, a victim-centric set of tools to combat the growing proliferation of child sexual abuse material on the internet.

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