After Facebook now tech companies like Snap, TikTok, and YouTube are being grilled by US senators over the impact of content shown on these social media platforms on children and teenagers.
Both Democrats and Republicans raised their concerns on consumer protection. They are worried that these tech giants are promoting destructive acts and harming children.
Executives from Snapchat. Tik Tok and YouTube provided testimony about algorithms, safety, and attempts to protect mental health.
Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn voiced her opinion, stating that for far too long, platforms have been allowed to promote and glorify dangerous information for their child and adolescent users.
According to her, in the weeks preceding up to this hearing, she has heard from parents, teachers, and mental health experts who all had the same question: “How long are they going to let this go on?”
Senator Richard Blumenthal, the chairman of the Senate subcommittee hosting, stated that everything they do is to add people, particularly children, and keep them on their apps for a longer period.
TikTok’s head of public policy in the Americas, Michael Beckerman, defended the app by stating that it is not a social network built on followers. TikTok users watch TikToks, and TikTok users produce TikTok videos. According to him, Tiktok is a different kind of platform.
Jennifer Stout, Snap VP of global public policy said that Snapchat was built as an antidote to social media, noting images on the platform deleted by default.
Snap and TikTok are also testifying for the first time.
YouTube told in that it removed 7 million accounts believed to belong to young children and preteens in the first three quarters. Autoplay videos are disabled by default for users under the age of 18 on YouTube Kids and YouTube.
The hearing came amid the accusations Facebook faced earlier this month. Facebook was accused of knowing the harm its platform does to the mental health of teenagers. Frances Haugen, the former Facebook product manager, leaked tens of thousands of internal company documents to the Wall Street Journal and testified before the same Senate subcommittee. She also testified to Parliament on Monday.