Meta, TikTok, YouTube, Twitter grilled over privacy, moderation failures

Senator Josh Hawley also asked Pappas about the company's ties with the Chinese government.

Washington: The US Senate Homeland Security Committee grilled executives from Meta, TikTok, YouTube and Twitter over privacy and moderation failures on their respective platforms in recent years, saying that they “keep avoiding sharing really very important information with us”.

TikTok COO Vanessa Pappas, Twitter General Manager of Consumer and Revenue, Jay Sullivan, Meta Chief Product Officer Chris Cox and YouTube Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan testified before the panel late on Wednesday.

“I’ll be honest, I’m frustrated that all of you (who) have a prominent seat at the table when these business decisions are made were not more prepared to speak to specifics about your product development process, even when you are specifically asked if you would bring specific numbers to us today,” lamented committee Chair Senator Gary Peters.

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TikTok COO Pappas testified for the first time before lawmakers.

According to TechCrunch, the hearing explored the platforms’ impact on national security and also grilled them on domestic extremism and misinformation to Child Sexual Abuse Material (CSAM) and China.

Senator Alex Padilla questioned Meta’s Cox about the safety efforts outside of the English language.

“In your testimony you state that you have over 40,000 people working on trust and safety issues. How many of those people focus on non English language content and how many of them focus on non US users?” Padilla asked.

Cox didn’t provide an answer.

Twitter’s Sullivan also declined to specifically deny accusations that the company “willfully misrepresented” information given to the US FTC. Twitter is engaged in a little legal battle with Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

“I can tell you, Twitter disputes the allegations,” Sullivan said.

TikTok also refused to agree that the company sends user data to China, including ByteDance employees.

Senator Josh Hawley also asked Pappas about the company’s ties with the Chinese government.

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