Facebook is the least trustworthy tech company when it comes to protecting user data. The social network giant has developed such a bad reputation in this regard that its rivals are now referring to it as the ultimate bad actor. In a recent Senate hearing on child safety, TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube all tried to show that they are not like Facebook, BBC reports. TikTok and Snapchat were testifying before Congress for the very first time. YouTube’s parent company Google has testified before.
Snapchat, who was represented by its head of global public policy Jennifer Stout, said it’s primarily a camera company. “Snapchat was built as an antidote to social media,” Jennifer told senators, as she tried to prove that the company doesn’t belong to the same category as Facebook.
TikTok public policy head Michael Beckerman also made a similar argument. He said the ultra-popular short-form video-sharing app is “not a social network based on followers”. The TikTok representative argued that that app is all about watching and creating videos. “You watch TikToks, you create them,” Michael said.
But both these companies, particularly TikTok, have faced accusations of serving harmful content to young users, such as weight-loss videos to teenage girls. And senators expectedly pointed that out, calling on them to stop trying distancing themselves from Facebook.
“Being different from Facebook is not a defense. That bar is in the gutter. It’s not a defense to say that you are different. We’re hearing the same stories of harm,” the lawmakers said. “The problem is clear – big tech preys on children and teens to make more money. Everything you do is to add users, especially kids, and keep them on your apps.”
“There will be accountability – this time is different.”
Section 230 is shielding social media platforms
Lawmakers are coming down hard on social media companies over their handling of user data, especially that of teenage users. Senators have quizzed some of the biggest names in this industry, including Facebook and Google in recent times.
Amid all this, some lawmakers are calling on lifting the main shield that’s protecting these companies: Section 230, a legislation that protects them from being held accountable for user posts on their platform. Since the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have a vast userbase and cannot possibly review every single post on their platform, this legislation gives them immunity against any misinformation or harmful content that users have posted. Time will tell whether this legislation sees any changes down the line.