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Snapchat, TikTok, YouTube Agree to Capitol Hill Grilling

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The Snapchat ghost logo (Image credit: Snap)

Representatives from Snapchat, TikTok and YouTube have agreed to testify at an Oct. 26 Senate hearing, and they should probably come in flak jackets.

The hearing is the bipartisan handiwork of Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety and Data Security chairman Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and ranking member Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), both of whom have been highly critical of edge provider practices.

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“The bombshell reports about Facebook and Instagram — their toxic impacts on young users and lack of truth or transparency — raise serious concerns about Big Tech’s approach toward kids across the board,” said Blumenthal, who has been saying for a while that he wanted to get representatives from other platforms to testify before the committee.

The Oct. 26 hearing is the fourth in a series on the impact of the edge on children and young people.

“Big tech companies continue to prioritize profit over safety and, in doing so, are harming children online,” Blackburn said, going further than Blumenthal in hammering the upcoming witnesses by name. “TikTok, Snapchat and YouTube all play a leading role in exposing children to harmful content.”

Blumenthal has said he believes Big Tech is having a Big Tobacco moment, an observation that came following the revelations about Facebook's internal research findings that some young people found Instagram contributed to their depression and negative body image.

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Facebook, Instagram’s owner, has bought a lot of airtime in Washington for ads arguing for regulations on its content moderation, likely because it sees Washington is serious about regulating the platform. The social-media giant wants to head off the potential elimination of its immunity from civil liability for most third-party content on its sites under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.