Tech giants try distancing themselves from Facebook – BBC News

TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube are the latest technology giants to have been quizzed by US senators over concerns about their youngest users' safety.
During nearly four hours of questioning, on Monday, they tried to differentiate themselves from Facebook, which has faced increasing scrutiny from politicians in recent months.
But they were told: "Being different from Facebook is not a defence.
"That bar is in the gutter. It's not a defence to say that you are different."
In his opening remarks, senator Richard Blumenthal added: "We're hearing the same stories of harm.
"The problem is clear – big tech preys on children and teens to make more money
"Everything you do is to add users, especially kids, and keep them on your apps.
"This is for big tech a big tobacco moment.
"It is a moment of reckoning.
"There will be accountability – this time is different."
Facebook, accused of harming children's mental wellbeing, has faced increasing calls for regulation.
But Snapchat told senators it did not belong in the same category.
"Snapchat was built as an antidote to social media," Snap global-public-policy vice-president Jennifer Stout said.
"In fact, we describe ourselves as a camera company."
TikTok public-policy head Michael Beckerman, meanwhile, told the hearing: "TikTok is not a social network based on followers.
"You watch TikToks, you create them."
But TikTok has faced accusations its algorithm serves harmful content to its teenage users, such as weight-loss videos or dangerous pranks.
The hearing follows Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen's document leaks to the Wall Street Journal, which include claims the parent company was aware of the "toxic" impact Instagram was having on teenage girls.
She said Facebook's own research had described one problem as "an addict's narrative" – where children were unhappy but could not control their use of the app or feel like they could stop using it.
But Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg said the platform had made efforts to fight harmful content.
"We care deeply about issues like safety, wellbeing and mental health," he said in a letter posted on his Facebook page.
"It's difficult to see coverage that misrepresents our work and our motives."
Senators also have growing concerns about both censorship and the spread of misinformation.
And some say legislation protecting social networks from being sued – known as Section 230 – needs to be revisited.
Originally seen as a way to protect internet providers such as BT or Comcast, it has become the main shield for huge sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, which cannot possibly review every post from their users before publication.
However, many US politicians claim the legislation is outdated and social networks must be held accountable.
Facebook earns $9bn despite whistleblower scandal
Facebook is making hate worse, whistleblower says
Charges possible over fatal film-set shooting
A US prosecutor says "all options are on the table" over the shooting involving actor Alec Baldwin.
French fishing threats disappointing, UK says
Poland told to pay €1m a day in legal row with EU
Is India on track to meet its climate targets?
Covid passes set to stay as Europe heads for winter
How the pandemic made us more adventurous drinkers
'My great-grandfather sculpted the Benin Bronzes'
Why I'm playing a black woman who passed as white. Video
The odd couple blocking Biden's climate agenda
Surviving in Kuwait's 'unbearable' heat. Video
BBC Culture: The most disturbing film ever made?
Lyrics quiz
Have you been getting these songs wrong?
Feeling hot
What happens to your body in extreme heat?
1Charges possible over fatal film-set shooting
2Chinese launch very concerning, says US general
3Start-up launches £495,000 hoverbike in Japan
4French fishing threats disappointing, says Frost
5Poland told to pay €1m a day in legal row with EU
6Koeman sacked as Barcelona head coach
7Humans turning forests into carbon sources
8Hong Kong passes film censorship law
9Bayern suffer biggest loss since 1978
10Australia confirms end to citizen travel ban
© 2021 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read about our approach to external linking.