YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat are as dangerous as Facebook for young people

After Facebook, the US Senate Committee on Commerce continued its hearings on the effects of social networks on the mental health of children and adolescents. For the first time, representatives from YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat were called to the stand. For American lawmakers, they are far from doing enough to protect the youngest.

Credit: Unsplash

As you know, Facebook has recently been in the sights of American justice after the publication of a series of controversial articles by the Wall Street Journal. Thanks to the revelations of the whistleblower Frances Haugen, the American media was able to shed light on certain internal workings of Facebook, which notably encourages online hatred to maximize its profits. Of course, Mark Zuckerberg quickly denied and refuted his accusations.

Despite everything, the controversy naturally attracted the attention of American lawmakers. Indeed, for several days now, the Senate Committee on American Trade has been hearings on the effects of social networks on the mental health of young people. And at the last hearing, the commission chose to call representatives from TikTok, YouTube and Snapchat to the bar. Relatively spared since the start of the Facebook scandal, these three apps are nevertheless among the most popular with teenagers and young users.

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Credits: Senate of Commerce

YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat in front of the Senate

Everyone therefore came to defend their parish and present their various measures to protect the youngest. Jennifer Stout, vice president of global public policy at Snapchat, recalled the implementation of a new parental control that will allow view information on how children use the app.

For her part, YouTube vice president Leslie Miller said the platform is working on a new feature that will allow parents to “choose a locked default autoplay setting ” in the YouTube Kids app, in addition to other parental control options.

As for TikTok, Michael Beckerman, vice president of public policy for the app, was rather succinct about the measures taken. There was indeed the establishment of a private profile for minors in January 2021, but regarding upcoming changes, the manager just mentioned the arrival “additional parental controls ”… And that’s all.

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Michael Beckerman from TikTok was very comfortable during the auditions… /
Credits: Senate of Commerce

Measures far from sufficient for US lawmakers

For Senators, these announcements and promises are far, far from sufficient. Representatives were stingy in response to several sensitive topics, such as promoting eating disorder and self-injury content on YouTube and TikTok. Senators also called Snapchat to do something to stop drug dealers on its platform. A position shared by the Minister of the Interior Gérald Darmanin, who considers Snapchat as “the social network of drugs”.

Then it was TikTok’s Beckerman’s turn to step on the grill. Several US senators have tried to wring worms from Beckerman’s nose about TikTok’s ties to Chinese parent company ByteDance and how it handles US user data. In a rather heated exchange, Senator Ted Cruz said Micheal Beckerman systematically dodged questions about ByteDance and TikTok’s alleged ties to the Chinese government.

What if the Facebook representatives were absent from this hearing, the recent revelations of Frances Haugen were obviously at the center of the debate. Repeatedly, spokespersons for YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat have recalled how Facebook is not. A defense mechanism that has quite annoyed lawmakers as Senator Richard Blumenthal has pointed out. “Being different from Facebook is no defense. This business is unrecoverable. It is not a defense to say that you are different ”, declared the American politician.

Source : Engadget

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