TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat executives to testify at Senate hearing on kids' safety

TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat executives to testify at Senate hearing on kids' safety
© Greg Nash

Executives from YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat will be in the hot seat next week at a Senate Commerce Committee hearing about the influence of social media on children, lawmakers announced Tuesday. 

The Senate Commerce Consumer Protection subcommittee hearing with the tech executives is part of a series of hearings the top members of the panel have scheduled on the topic of kids’ safety, following two meetings earlier this month that put Facebook in the spotlight. 

“Recent revelations about harm to kids online show that Big Tech is facing its Big Tobacco moment—a moment of reckoning,” subcommittee chairman Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said in a statement. “We need to understand the impact of popular platforms like Snapchat, TikTok, and YouTube on children and what companies can do better to keep them safe."

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Ranking member Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnConservatives target Biden pick for New York district court Senators seek to curb counterfeit toys and goods sold online China draws scrutiny over case of tennis star Peng Shuai MORE (R-Tenn.) said the companies “continue to prioritize profit over safety” and are harming children online in the process. 

The social media companies confirmed they will be sending executives to testify. 

TikTok's vice president and head of public policy for the Americas, Michael Beckerman, will represent the company, according to a spokesperson. 

YouTube’s vice president of government affairs and public policy, Leslie Miller, will be participating at the hearing, according to the company. 

A spokesperson for Snapchat said, “we look forward to appearing before the Subcommittee to discuss our approach to protecting the safety, privacy and wellbeing of our Snapchat community."  

Blumenthal and Blackburn, along with their colleagues on both sides of the aisle, have long been raising concerns about the effect of social media on young users. The issue was pushed into the spotlight after a series of bombshell Wall Street Journal reports based on leaked internal Facebook documents by a whistleblower, Frances Haugen, who later came forward publicly and testified before the Senate committee. 

In part, the reports revealed internal documents from Facebook regarding how Instagram harms the mental health of teen users. 

Facebook has pushed back on the reports as a mischaracterization of its internal research.