For the Senate hearing on child safety on Tuesday, Snap, TikTok, and YouTube had one goal: to persuade lawmakers that they are nothing like Facebook. In spite of the companies’ willingness to be transparent, lawmakers have not been discouraged from pursuing new legislation.
While Google, the company that owns YouTube, has appeared before Congress before, this was the first time representatives from Snap and TikTok did so, and they were ready to set themselves apart from the social media giant that has been embroiled in yet another scandal. Senators pursued these hearings as a result of leaks from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen. Because of this, Snap and TikTok were more determined than ever to differentiate themselves from Facebook, while also promising Congress greater transparency into their internal research and algorithmic decisions.
“Snapchat was built as an antidote to social media,” Jennifer Stout, Snap’s vice president of global public policy, said on Tuesday, attempting to remove Snapchat from the Facebook comparison. “In fact, we describe ourselves as a camera company.”
“TikTok is a global entertainment platform where people create and watch short-form videos,” said Michael Beckerman, TikTok’s vice president and head of public policy for the Americas.
Beckerman went on to say that for young users, social features such as direct messages are disabled by default.