clearn.png
Friday November 26th, 2021 6:09PM

Senators put YouTube, TikTok, Snap on defensive on kids' use

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senators put executives from YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat on the defensive Tuesday, questioning them about what they’re doing to ensure young users’ safety on their platforms.

Citing the harm that can come to vulnerable young people from the sites — ranging from eating disorders to exposure to sexually explicit content and material promoting addictive drugs — the lawmakers also sought the executives' support for legislation bolstering protection of children on social media. But they received little firm commitment.

“The problem is clear: Big Tech preys on children and teens to make more money,” Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., said at a hearing by the Senate Commerce subcommittee on consumer protection.

The subcommittee recently took testimony from a former Facebook data scientist, who laid out internal company research showing that the company’s Instagram photo-sharing service appears to seriously harm some teens. The subcommittee is widening its focus to examine other tech platforms, with millions or billions of users, that also compete for young people’s attention and loyalty.

“We’re hearing the same stories of harm” caused by YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat, said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., the panel’s chairman.

“This is for Big Tech a big tobacco moment ... It is a moment of reckoning,” he said. “There will be accountability. This time is different.”

To that end, Markey asked the three executives — Michael Beckerman, a TikTok vice president and head of public policy for the Americas; Leslie Miller, vice president for government affairs and public policy of YouTube’s owner Google; and Jennifer Stout, vice president for global public policy of Snapchat parent Snap Inc. — if they would support his bipartisan legislation that would give new privacy rights to children, and ban targeted ads and video autoplay for kids.

In a lengthy exchange as Markey tried to draw out a commitment of support, the executives avoided providing a direct endorsement, insisting that their platforms already are complying with the proposed restrictions. They said they’re seeking a dialogue with lawmakers as the legislation is crafted.

That wasn’t good enough for Markey and Blumenthal, who perceived a classic Washington lobbying game in a moment of crisis for social media and the tech industry. “This is the talk that we’ve seen again and again and again and again,” Blumenthal told them. Applauding legislative goals in a general way is “meaningless” unless backed up by specific support, he said.

“Sex and drugs are violations of our community standards; they have no place on TikTok,” Beckerman said. TikTok has tools in place, such as screen-time management, to help young people and parents moderate how long children spend on the app and what they see, he said.

The company says it focuses on age-appropriate experiences, noting that some features, such as direct messaging, are not available to younger users. The video platform, wildly popular with teens and younger children, is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. In only five years since launching, it has gained an estimated 1 billion monthly users.

Early this year after federal regulators order TikTok to disclose how its practices affect children and teenagers, the platform tightened its privacy practices for users under 18.

Pressed by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., about a 19-year-old said to have died from counterfeit pain medication he bought through Snapchat, Stout said, “We’re absolutely determined to remove all drug dealers from Snapchat.” She said the platform has deployed detection measures against dealers but acknowledged that they are often evaded.

Stout made the case that Snapchat’s platform differs from the others in relying on humans, not artificial intelligence, for moderating content.

Snapchat allows people to send photos, videos and messages that are meant to quickly disappear, an enticement to its young users seeking to avoid snooping parents and teachers. Hence its “Ghostface Chillah” faceless (and word-less) white logo.

Only 10 years old, Snapchat says an eye-popping 90% of 13- to 24-year-olds in the U.S. use the service. It reported 306 million daily users in the July-September quarter.

Miller said YouTube has worked to provide children and families with protections and parental controls like time limits, to limit viewing to age-appropriate content. The offshoot YouTube Kids, available in around 70 countries, has an estimated 35 million weekly users.

“We do not prioritize profits over safety. We do not wait to act," she said.

The three platforms are woven into the fabric of young people’s lives, often influencing their dress, dance moves and diet, potentially to the point of obsession. Peer pressure to get on the apps is strong. Social media can offer entertainment and education, but platforms have been misused to harm children and promote bullying, vandalism in schools, eating disorders and manipulative marketing, lawmakers say.

The panel wants to learn how algorithms and product designs can magnify harm to children, foster addiction and intrusions of privacy. And Blumenthal especially asked the executives whether independent research had been conducted on the impact on young people of the platforms. He said the lawmakers want to receive information from the companies on such research soon.

TikTok, in its first time testifying before Congress, received especially fierce criticism during the hearing, particularly from conservative Republican lawmakers who highlighted its Chinese ownership. The company says it stores all TikTok U.S. data in the United States, with a backup facility in Singapore.

“TikTok actually collects less data than many of our peers,” Beckerman said.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, told Beckerman that he dodged questions more than any witness he’s ever seen in Congress.

TikTok’s privacy policy states, “We may share all of the information we collect with a parent, subsidiary or other affiliate of our corporate group.” Senators drilled down on whether “other affiliate” includes ByteDance and what that means for Chinese access to data.

__

O'Brien reported from Providence, Rhode Island.

__

Follow Marcy Gordon at https://twitter.com/mgordonap

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Business, AP Business - Consumer News, AP Technology News
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Billionaire tax runs into criticism; big Biden plan in flux
The Democrats’ idea for a new billionaires’ tax to help pay for President Joe Biden’s social services and climate change plan has run into criticism among lawmakers
3:01PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Women progress in US casinos but more advancement needed
Women make up just over half the workers in the U.S. casino industry
3:00PM ( 23 minutes ago )
'We've got to run' — Idaho mall shooting leaves 2 dead
Idaho police say they exchanged gunfire with a suspect during a shooting at a shopping mall in Boise that killed two people and injured four, including an officer
2:55PM ( 27 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Queen Elizabeth II won't attend climate conference in person
Buckingham Palace says Queen Elizabeth II has cancelled her planned engagement at the U.N. climate conference, accepting doctors’ advice to rest
2:04PM ( 1 hour ago )
Flooding, outages expected as big storm lashes US Northeast
A powerful storm has begun barreling up the northeastern U.S. coast, and officials warn it could bring intense flooding and hurricane-force wind gusts
1:57PM ( 1 hour ago )
Senators put YouTube, TikTok, Snap on defensive on kids' use
Senators have put executives of YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat on the defensive
1:54PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Billionaire tax runs into criticism, big Biden plan in flux
The Democrats’ idea for a new billionaires’ tax to help pay for President Joe Biden’s social services and climate change plan is quickly running into criticism among lawmakers
11:13AM ( 4 hours ago )
Billionaire tax runs into criticism, throwing Biden in flux
The Democrats’ idea for a new billionaires’ tax to help pay for President Joe Biden’s social services and climate change plan is quickly running into criticism among lawmakers
11:07AM ( 4 hours ago )
UN chief laments 'leadership gap' ahead of climate talks
The head of the United Nations says a “leadership gap” is undermining the world’s efforts to curb global warming, days before presidents and prime ministers from around the globe gather for a climate summit in Glasgow
10:05AM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online National News
White House eyes new climate change strategies in Biden bill
The White House is zeroing in on a package of clean energy strategies for President Joe Biden’s big domestic policy bill
2:27PM ( 1 hour ago )
GOP election chief who rejects fraud claims named to fed job
A Republican secretary of state who challenged former President Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud in 2020 will lead the Biden administration’s effort to protect future elections
2:17PM ( 1 hour ago )
Dismissed: Germany's Merkel becomes caretaker chancellor
Angela Merkel took a step closer to political retirement Tuesday after receiving her formal dismissal certificate from the post of chancellor after 16 years in office
2:00PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Germany's newly elected parliament convenes for first time
Germany’s newly elected parliament is holding its first meeting
7:51AM ( 7 hours ago )
Germany's newly elected parliament to convene for first time
Germany’s newly elected parliament is set to hold its first meeting
3:29AM ( 11 hours ago )
YouTube, TikTok, Snap execs face senators on kids' safety
The leaders of a Senate panel have called executives from YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat to face questions on what the companies are doing to ensure young users’ safety
3:06AM ( 12 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Solid earnings drive US stocks further into record heights
Stocks rose in afternoon trading on Wall Street Tuesday and pushed major indexes further into record heights as investors review mostly solid earnings
2:26PM ( 1 hour ago )
Meatpacker Tyson: Mandate led 96% of workers to get vaccine
Meatpacking giant Tyson Foods says more than 96% of its workers have been vaccinated ahead of the company’s Nov. 1 deadline for them to do so
1:14PM ( 2 hours ago )
Blackhawks to hold briefing on sexual assault investigation
The Chicago Blackhawks are holding a briefing to discuss the findings of an investigation into allegations that an assistant coach sexually assaulted a player in 2010
1:13PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Business
Justice Department to expand redlining investigation efforts
The Justice Department has announced a cross-government effort to investigate and prosecute redlining, the practice of banks discriminating against racial minorities or certain neighborhoods
3:23PM ( 4 days ago )
Consumer watchdog to probe Big Tech payment systems
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is ordering Apple, Amazon, PayPal and other tech giants to reveal how their proprietary payment networks function
4:44PM ( 4 days ago )
Regulator seeks transparency for payment systems of big tech
In its first significant action under a new director, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is ordering Apple, Amazon, PayPal and other tech giants to reveal how their proprietary payment networks function
12:58PM ( 5 days ago )
AP Business - Consumer News
Facebook profits rise amid revelations from leaked documents
Amid fallout from the Facebook Papers showing its failure to address the harms its social network has created around the world, Facebook on Monday reported higher profit for the latest quarter, buoyed by strong advertising revenue
6:15PM ( 21 hours ago )
Facebook profits rise amid Facebook Papers findings
Amid fallout from the Facebook Papers showing its failure to address the harms its social network has created around the world, Facebook on Monday reported higher profit for the latest quarter, buoyed by strong advertising revenue
5:05PM ( 22 hours ago )
Facebook yanks Bolsonaro video claiming vaccines cause AIDS
Facebook and Instagram have removed from their platforms a live broadcast that Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro delivered in which he said people in the U.K. who have received two coronavirus vaccine doses are developing AIDS faster than expected
3:25PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Technology News
Billionaire tax runs into criticism; big Biden plan in flux
The Democrats’ idea for a new billionaires’ tax to help pay for President Joe Biden’s social services and climate change plan has run into criticism among lawmakers
3:01PM ( 27 minutes ago )
Women progress in US casinos but more advancement needed
Women make up just over half the workers in the U.S. casino industry
3:00PM ( 27 minutes ago )
'We've got to run' — Idaho mall shooting leaves 2 dead
Idaho police say they exchanged gunfire with a suspect during a shooting at a shopping mall in Boise that killed two people and injured four, including an officer
2:55PM ( 32 minutes ago )
Blackhawks GM Bowman resigns after sexual assault probe
Chicago Blackhawks general manager and president of Hockey Operations Stan Bowman has resigned after an investigation found he was among a group of leaders who failed to respond promptly to allegations that an assistant coach sexually assaulted a player in 2010
2:49PM ( 38 minutes ago )
QB changes possible for Georgia, Florida in Cocktail Party
No. 1 Georgia and unranked Florida have unsettled quarterbacks situations heading into their annual rivalry football game known as “The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party" in Jacksonville
2:49PM ( 39 minutes ago )