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A GOP congresswoman said Facebook, Google, and Twitter's platforms 'are my biggest fear as a parent'

Mar 25, 2021, 23:19 IST
Business Insider
Energy and Commerce Committee/YouTube
  • A GOP congresswoman said Google's YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook are her "biggest fears as a parent."
  • The comment was made during a congressional hearing about online misinformation.
  • The CEOs of these companies are testifying to defend their companies

Republican Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington said Facebook, Twitter, and Google's platforms are "my biggest fear as a parent."

The comment was made during a congressional hearing on misinformation, one that was scheduled after internet platforms have grappled with both misinformation and disinformation, or misleading content that is deliberately spread.

Rodgers, who said she has three kids of her own, said platforms like Google-owned YouTube and others have abused their power "to manipulate and harm our children." The congresswoman cited loneliness, plummeting psychological well-being, and self-harm ideation as side effects of social media use.

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"I do not want their self-worth defined by the engagement tools you built to attract their attention," Rodgers said. "I do not want them to be in danger from what you've created. I do not want their emotions and vulnerabilities taken advantage of."

The CEOs of Twitter, Google, and Facebook are testifying in Thursday's hearing to discuss their role in the proliferation of misinformation online, namely, disinformation relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 presidential election, and the January 6 US Capitol siege.

Internet platforms have faced mounting scrutiny in the past year to police false information on their websites. The companies have cracked down on former President Donald Trump as well - Twitter began adding fact-check labels to his tweets in May 2020, fueling an ongoing debate around alleged conservative discrimination online.

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Jack Dorsey, Sundar Pichai, and Mark Zuckerberg have become well-versed in appearing before Congress since last July, when they as well as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos testified at a congressional antitrust hearing. But this hearing is their first since President Joe Biden was sworn into office. It's also the first since the January 6 insurrection, when pro-Trump extremists stormed the US Capitol building. Those rioters were found to have organized on platforms like Facebook weeks in advance.

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