TikTok, Snap and YouTube defend how they protect kids online in congressional hearing

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TikTok, Snapchat and YouTube, all social media sites popular with teens and young adults, attended a congressional hearing and faced a barrage of questions and accusations from lawmakers who want the companies to do more to protect children online. Executives from all three companies committed to sharing internal research on how their products affect kids — an issue that has come to the forefront in the past several weeks as tens of thousands of pages of Facebook’s internal documents have been revealed by a whistleblower. It was the first time testifying before the legislative body for both TikTok and Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, despite their popularity and Congress’s increasing focus on tech industry practices. The hearing, convened by Sen Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) in front of the Senate Commerce Committee’s consumer protection panel, drilled into how kids’ data is protected online, how features such as autoplay and “likes” affect teenagers’ experiences, and what the companies are doing to rid their sites of harmful behavior including bullying and drug sales. It is unclear exactly what data the companies agreed to disclose and whether they’ll disclose new research they conduct. Blumenthal warned the testifying companies that simply being different from Facebook is not a defense. Experts say this hearing is a good start at examining companies other than the biggest few.

TikTok, Snap, YouTube defend how they protect kids online in congressional hearing Senators Turn Child-Safety Spotlight on TikTok, Snapchat and YouTube TikTok and Snap want to prove they’re not Facebook YouTube, Snap and TikTok executives take their turn answering to Washington. (NYTimes)