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 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.”
‘Anti-dote to social media’
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.