Congress to grill TikTok over school-trashing content

Reuters reports that
TikTok will face questions about content that may have led children and teens to steal from or vandalize school bathrooms and other facilities when it and other large social media companies appear before Congress on Tuesday.

In setting a hearing focused on TikTok, Alphabet’s YouTube and Snapchat, the Senate Commerce Committee said the popular apps have “been misused to harm kids and promote destructive acts, such as vandalism in schools, deadly viral challenges, bullying, eating disorders, manipulative influencer marketing, and grooming.”

In his prepared testimony, Michael Beckerman, head of public policy for the Americas at TikTok, said that the company’s moderation teams work to quickly take down any such content known as “devious licks.”

The “devious licks” trend on TikTok pushed students to steal from schools or vandalize them.

Beckerman added TikTok “issued specialized guidance to our teams on this violative content and proactively detected and removed content, including videos, hashtags, and audio associated with the trend,” including looking for spelling variants potentially used to elude moderators, he said.

The hearing is the latest part of a lengthy inquiry into what lawmakers from both parties see as Big Tech’s increasingly negative influence on competition, society and children.

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