TikTok and Snap at Senate hearing try to convince lawmakers that they are different from Facebook
According to The Verge,At the Senate child safety hearing on Tuesday, Snap, TikTok, and YouTube have an important goal: to convince lawmakers that they are completely different from Facebook.Although legislators were encouraged by the transparency of these companies, their humble attitude did not dispel the legislators’ desire to seek new legislation.
Although YouTube’s parent company Google has testified, this is the first time representatives of Snap and TikTok have testified in Congress. They are preparing to distinguish themselves from the social media giants at the center of another series of scandals. It was the leaks by Facebook whistleblower Francis Hogan that led the senators to hold these hearings. Facebook Papers shrouded the event, strengthening Snap and TikTok’s desire to differentiate themselves, and promising Congress greater transparency in their internal research and algorithms.
“Snapchat was established as an antidote to social media,” Jennifer Stout, Snap’s vice president of global public policy, said on Tuesday, trying to remove Snapchat from Facebook’s comparison. “In fact, we describe ourselves as a camera company.”
“TikTok is a global entertainment platform where people create and watch short videos,” said Michael Beckerman, TikTok’s vice president and head of public policy in the Americas. Beckerman went on to point out that private messaging and other social features are turned off by default for young users.
However, the statements of these companies did not quell legislators’ concerns that these platforms could be used in the same harmful ways as Facebook and Instagram.
Senator Richard Blumenthal said in his opening remarks on Tuesday: “Being different from Facebook is not a defense. … What we want is not vicious competition, but real competition.”
Before Tuesday’s hearing, lawmakers brought in Facebook’s security director Antigone Davis and whistleblower Francis Hogan to discuss how the company’s products, such as Instagram, can promote young users to encourage self-harm. And unhealthy behavior content. For years, legislators have vowed to enact new legislation to protect online children, but the Wall Street Journal recently reported a batch of internal Facebook documents leaked by Hoogen, which has injected new vitality into their willingness to regulate technology.
Specifically, the legislator pointed out that Facebook’s internal research pointed out that Instagram made “one-third of girls’ body image problems worse.”
At the September hearing, lawmakers noticed that Davis was unwilling to answer questions and refused to publish all of Facebook’s research on the impact of its platform on young users.
“I don’t understand, Ms. Davis, how can you deny that Instagram is not exploiting young users for its own profit?” Blumenthal asked her at the time. “This study is a blockbuster. It is strong and compelling evidence that Facebook is aware of the harmful effects of its website on children and that it conceals these facts and findings.”
Although Facebook may refuse to publish the research results, reporters from various news publications obtained other documents leaked by Hoogen and wrote a large number of articles on Monday, studying Facebook’s own research and research on youth and other issues (such as content control). File and name it “Facebook Papers”.
Obviously, Snap, TikTok and YouTube do not want to be victims of their own “file” scandal. At the hearing on Tuesday, all three companies promised to release their research, data, and independent research to Congress. Senator John Thune and other legislators said the committee can send these documents to independent experts for review.
In a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, Blumenthal said that his subcommittee will “require them” to fulfil this promise, and that lawmakers “will seek legislation,” including updates to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and possible “KIDS Act” to mark. The latter bill will impose new restrictions on the types of features and content that technology companies provide to children under the age of 16.
Even after Snap, TikTok and YouTube tried to remove themselves from Facebook’s regulatory reasons, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg tried to mention them on the company’s latest earnings call on Monday. Zuckerberg explained that the company has modified its services to support elderly users, many of whom do not use platforms such as Snap and TikTok.
Zuckerberg said: “Many of our services have been allocated to the most suitable level for most people, rather than specifically for young people.” Later, he called TikTok “one of the most effective competitors we face.” . He also announced that the company will update the Instagram app design so that its Reels products “become a more central part of the experience.” Reels is Facebook’s response to TikTok’s growing popularity among young people, allowing users to post videos in a similar style.
However, it is unclear when the company that testified on Tuesday plans to release an internal report. Snap, TikTok and YouTube did not immediately respond to The Verge’s request for comment on the timing of these disclosures.