Snap, YouTube, TikTok commit to sharing internal research on kids, teens with US lawmakers


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The hearing follows scathing testimony from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen

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YouTube, Snap and TikTok have all committed to sharing internal research on the impact of their respective platforms on children and adolescents with lawmakers from the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Data Security.

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According to testimony Tuesday from Snap Vice President for Global Policy Jenny Stout, the company’s internal research found that 95% of users say Snapchat makes them happy. Stout said Snap would be ready to share its research with lawmakers.

Meanwhile, TikTok’s head of public policy for America, Michael Beckerman, said he would commit to sharing the work of outside researchers studying the platform, and Leslie Miller, YouTube’s vice president of government affairs, said the company had previously Have shared your research and will continue to do so.

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The chairman of the subcommittee, Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal, said lawmakers look forward to receiving the research “within days or weeks, not months.”

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Tuesday’s hearing on a slew of documents centered on a series of reports from Facebook whistleblower Frances Hogen to scathing testimony from US and UK lawmakers, as well as reports from a media consortium of 17 US news outlets including The Wall Street Journal and Granthshala Business. is based. On topics including the impact of Instagram on teens and children, Facebook’s decision-making to combat misinformation, and more.

During the hearing, executives tried to distance themselves from Facebook, questioning its algorithms and content moderation policies.

At just 10 years old, Snapchat says 90% of 13- to 24-year-olds in the US use the service. It reported 306 million daily users in the July-September quarter and has over 500 million monthly active users worldwide. Stout made the case that Snapchat’s platform differs from others in that it relies not on artificial intelligence, but on humans, to moderate content.

Miller said YouTube has worked to provide children and families with safety and parental controls, such as time limits, to limit the viewing of age-appropriate content. Available in nearly 70 countries, offshoot YouTube Kids has an estimated 35 million weekly users.

Beckerman highlighted TikTok for Young Users, which gives individuals under the age of 13 access to fun, creative, and educational videos, but prohibits video posting and commenting, direct messaging, or maintaining profiles or followers. puts. It doesn’t even show ads. Meanwhile, accounts for TikTok users under the age of 16 will be set to private by default and features such as “recommend your account to others”, direct messaging, livestreaming, commenting, duets and stitching, and video downloads will be disabled by default. . Although TikTok did not specify how many teens and young children are on its platform, the company has crossed 1 billion monthly active users worldwide.

But Blumenthal argued that simply separating from Facebook is not a defense.

“That bar is in the gutter. It’s not a defense to say you’re different,” Blumenthal said. “What we want is not a downward race, but a really uphill race.”

In addition to algorithms and content moderation, the lawmakers asked officials about their support of various legislative proposals aimed at reforming Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which frees social media giants from liability related to what users post on their platforms. saves. TikTok was also placed under intense scrutiny by Republican lawmakers over its Chinese ownership.

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