The Senate Commerce Committee has just completed three hours of work Hearing About the impact of social media on children and adolescents. But the recent hearing differed from the previous one in an important way: it was attended by representatives of TikTok, Youtube and Snap.
While the app is one of the most popular apps among teenagers and young users, all three have received less attention from lawmakers than Facebook and even Twitter. TickTock and Snap appeared at such hearings for the first time. All three companies tried to stop the criticism by differentiating between their platform and Facebook, which recently compared To the tobacco company. And each company has promised new features to enhance parental controls and other child protections in their services.
YouTube VP Leslie Miller says the company is working on a new feature that will allow parents to “choose the default autoplay setting locked” in the YouTube Kids app, in addition to other new parental controls. He did not provide further details, but said it would be launched “in the coming months”.
Snap added that it is working on a new feature for parents, Jennifer Stout, VP of the global public policy company, said that the features “will be launched soon.” He said the update would allow parents to see information about how their children are using Snapchat, such as who they spend the most time chatting with and what their privacy and location settings are.
TikTok said it would add additional controls to allow parents and children to better customize their feeds, but was light on specific issues. “We’re investing in new ways for our community to enjoy content based on age-appropriate or family comfort,” said Michael Beckerman, VP of the public policy company. “
But the senators on the Commerce Committee seemed unhappy with this promise. Throughout the hearing, they put pressure on companies on issues such as algorithmically-boosted content. And self-harm on YouTube and TikTok. Snap’s Stout was pressured into what the company was doing to shut down On his platform.
Several Republican senators have also pressured Bakerman about TickTock’s relationship with China’s parent company ByteDance and how it handles U.S. user data. In a particularly memorable exchange, Senator Ted Cruz said Beckerman was avoiding questions about TickTock’s affiliation with a company called Beijing ByteDance Technology, which was reported To the Chinese government. Bakerman also removed questions about what data TikTok collects, as Facebook and Instagram collect more data about users than TikTok.
Although Facebook was not officially part of the hearing, whistleblower Frances Hagen’s revelations were mentioned several times. Senator Richard Blumenthal, who said in an earlier hearing that Facebook and other companies were facing a “big tobacco moment,” said that “technology is not as incredibly bad as big tobacco.”
But he said companies need to do more than just prove they are “different” from Facebook. “I understand from your testimony that your defense is‘ we are not Facebook ’,” he said. “Being separated from Facebook is not a defense. That bar is in the sewer. It’s not a defense to say you’re different. “
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