Tech giants try to distance themselves from Facebook

During almost four hours of interrogation, the three global platforms tried to differentiate themselves from Facebook, that in recent months has been facing strong questions from politicians due to problems related to safety and the exposure of minors to violence. social networks. During the hearing they were told: “Being different from Facebook is not a defense.

In his keynote address, Senator Richard Blumenthal added: “We are hearing the same stories of harm.” “The problem is clear: Big technology takes advantage of children and adolescents to earn more money.” All they do is to add users, especially children, and keep them in their applications. “This is a great tobacco moment for big technology. It’s a reckoning moment.” “It will be necessary to render accounts: this time it is different.”

Facebook is accused of harming the mental well-being of children, has faced increasing demands for regulation both in the United States and in Europe where, in addition, it faces accusations of monopolistic conduct.

In his defense, Snapchat representatives told senators that he did not belong in the same category.

“Snapchat was built as an antidote to social media,” said Snap VP of Global Public Policy Jennifer Stout. “In fact, we describe ourselves as a camera company.”

For his part, the head of public policy of TikTok, Michael Beckerman told the audience: “TikTok is not a social network based on followers.” TikToks are seen, they are created. “

But TikTok was embroiled in allegations that its algorithm serves harmful content to its teenage users, such as weight loss videos or dangerous pranks.

YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat appear before the Senate | Telemundo News

The addict’s narrative

The hearing came after Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked documents to the Wall Street Journal, including claims that the parent company was aware of the “toxic” impact Instagram had on teenage girls.

Haugen said Facebook’s own research had described an issue as “an addict’s narrative,” in which children were unhappy but couldn’t control their use of the app or feel like they could stop using it.

However, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the platform had made efforts to combat harmful content. “We care deeply about issues such as safety, well-being and mental health,” he said in a letter posted on his Facebook page. “It’s hard to see coverage that misrepresents our work and our motives.”

Absolute power

Senators are also increasingly concerned about both censorship and the spread of misinformation seen on social media, notably Facebook.

On the other hand, some say that legislation protecting social media from being sued – known as Section 230 – needs to be revised.

Originally seen as a way to protect ISPs like BT or Comcast, it has become the main shield for huge sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, which cannot review all of their users’ posts before publishing. .

However, many American politicians claim that the legislation is outdated and that social media must be held accountable.