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NEWS & ANALYSIS

TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube to Testify Before Congress Over Impacts on Teens & Children


Three of the most popular social media platforms among children and teens – TikTok, Snapchat and YouTube – will testify before Congress in a hearing Tuesday over their harmful impacts.

The Big Tech Honchos will testify before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Data Security in a hearing titled “Protecting Kids Online: Snapchat, TikTok, and YouTube.”

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, the ranking republican on the committee, said the three platforms all “play a leading role in exposing children to harmful content,” specifically noting that TikTok is an “especially egregious offender, both because they make the personal information of all TikTok users available to the communist Chinese government, and because the app pushes sexually explicit and drug-related content onto children,” Fox News reports.

This isn’t the first time TikTok has found itself in the heat of debate. The app, which has surpassed 1 billion monthly active users, had to remove 81.5 million videos – including 11.4 million in the United States – from its platform between April and June of 2021 for violating its Community Guidelines.

Approximately41.3 percent of videos violated minor safety; 20.9 percent violated policies on illegal activities and regulated goods; 14 percent violated policies on nudity, sexually explicit content and pornography; 7.7 percent violated policies on violent and graphic content; 6.8 percent violated policies on harassment and bullying; and 5.3 percent violated policies on suicide, self-harm and dangerous acts.

More than 4.6 million videos were reinstated on the platform after being appealed.

On the other hand, YouTube removed more than 1.8 million videos for violation of its child safety policies between April and June.

According to its latest transparency report from July to December of 2020, Snapchat received over 10 million reports of content violations and acted against over 5.5 million pieces of content that violated community guidelines. Of those, 4.3 million violated policies on sexually explicit content; over 427,000 violated policies surrounding regulated goods; over 337,000 violated policies on harmful or violent content; and over 238,000 violated policies related to harassment or bullying.

TikTok will be represented by Michael Beckerman, the company’s head of public policy for the Americas. Leslie Miller, YouTube’s vice president of government affairs and public policy, is expected to testify that the platform has “clear policies that prohibit content that exploits or endangers minors on YouTube” and that “significant time and resources” have been put towards removing offensive content. Snapchat’s vice president of global public policy Jennifer Stout is expected to testify that the company has made “thoughtful and intentional choices to apply additional privacy and safety policies and design principles to help keep teenagers safe.”