Blackburn Presses Big Tech Executives Over Practices Endangering Children Online

October 26, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Ranking Member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security, questioned senior executives for Snapchat, TikTok, and YouTube during a hearing titled “Protecting Kids Online: Snapchat, TikTok, and YouTube.”


View opening statements here.


Big Tech Puts Children’s Mental Health At Risk


“Today's conversation is something that is much needed, and it is long overdue. For too long, we have allowed platforms to promote and glorify dangerous content for its kid and teen users. In the weeks leading up to this hearing, I've heard from parents, from teachers, from mental health professionals who are all wondering the same thing. How long are we going to let this continue, and what will it take for platforms to finally crack down on the viral challenges, the illicit drugs, the eating disorder content and the child sexual abuse material? We find this on your platforms, and teachers, parents, and mental health physicians cannot figure out why you allow this to happen.”



Children Are Exposed To Dangerous Content Online


“It seems like every day that I hear stories about kids and teens who are suffering after interacting with TikTok, YouTube, and Snapchat. Kids as young as nine have died doing viral challenges on TikTok. We've seen teen girls lured into inappropriate sexual relationships with predators on Snapchat. You’re parents, how can you allow this? How can you allow this? I've learned about kids and teens who commit suicide due to bullying that they've suffered on these sites and the platforms’ refusal to work with law enforcement and families to stop the harassment when asked. If it were your child, what would you do to protect your child? Does it matter to you? My staff have viewed abusive content, featuring minors and videos of people slitting their wrists on YouTube. It's still there. Yet, all the while kids and teens are flocking to these sites in increasing numbers, and the platforms love it. As they know that youth are a captive audience, one which will continue consuming the content that is fed to them through these algorithms. Even if it puts them in danger, they're curious, they get pulled down the rabbit hole. They continue to watch.”



The Chinese Communist Party Is Dangerously Close To Our Children’s Data


“I've made no secret about my concerns that TikTok, which is owned by Beijing, owned by ByteDance, is paving the way for the Chinese government to gain unfettered access to our children and teens. TikTok, despite vague assurances that they and I'm quoting ‘store data outside of China’ has not alleviated my concerns in the slightest. In fact, earlier this year, they changed their privacy policy to allow themselves to collect even more data on Americans…The time has come where we must focus on what Congress can do to secure American consumers' personal data. As a mother and a grandmother I know this is doubly important when it comes to our children. As this hearing will show, we can't afford to wait on that.”