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Facebook, Google and Twitter face grilling by lawmakers in the United Kingdom

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Posted at 2:13 AM, Oct 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-28 08:13:19-04

British lawmakers are set to grill Facebook and other tech giants over how they handle online safety as European efforts to regulate social media companies gain momentum.

Representatives from Facebook, YouTube, Google, Twitter and TikTok will be questioned Thursday by members of a parliamentary committee scrutinizing the British government's draft online safety legislation.

Among those testifying Thursday is Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee and a whistleblower whose revelations have unleashed a trove of damaging reports about the social media platform that have been dubbed "The Facebook Papers."

Those reports insinuate Facebook and its products prioritized growth at the expense of the spread of misinformation and the mental health of its users.

Governments on both sides of the Atlantic want tougher rules aimed at protecting social media users, especially younger ones, but the United Kingdom's efforts are much further along.

U.K. lawmakers are questioning researchers, journalists, tech executives and other experts for a report to the government on how to improve the final version of the online safety bill.

The U.K.'s online safety bill calls for a regulator to ensure tech companies comply with rules requiring them to remove dangerous or harmful content or face penalties worth up to 10% of annual global revenue. The European Union is working on similar digital rules.

The hearing comes the same week YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat were questioned by a U.S. Senate panel. During that Tuesday hearing, lawmakers pressed company officials on how their platforms have been misused to promote bullying, drug use and encourage self-harm.