Social media executives testify before Congress.
N2K logoSep 16, 2022

Executives of Meta, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube testified before Congress Wednesday, and they're not oversharing in answering questions about national security and social media.

Social media executives testify before Congress.

Social media executives from Meta, Twitter, TikTok, and YouTube testified before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, TechCrunch reports. The hearing, intended to dive into the impact social media has on national security, took place on Wednesday, covering topics ranging from domestic extremism and misinformation, to connections with China. The testimony was, as it so often is before a Senate committee, guarded.

When asked by Committee Chair Senator Gary Peters to disclose the number of employees working full-time on trust and safety, the only answer offered was by Twitter General Manager of Consumer and Revenue Jay Sullivan, who said 2,200 people were working on trust and safety “across Twitter,” but it is unclear if all of those employees worked only on trust and safety.“[In] your testimony you state that you have over 40,000 people working on trust and safety issues. How many of those people focus on non English language content and how many of them focus on non U.S. users?” Senator Alex Padilla asked Meta executive Chris Cox, who didn’t answer. The question was then directed to the other executives, who also didn’t offer an answer.

When TikTok COO Vanessa Pappas was asked about the social media giant’s connections with China, specifically where Chinese-based parent company of TikTok ByteDance is based, she fumbled, answering the question by saying that “the company is distributed and doesn’t have a headquarters at all.” Slate reports that Senator Jon Ossoff said to Pappas when talking about Chinese connections, “I’m going to humbly and respectfully ask you not to give me the topline talking points.” Pappas also denied reports that the parent company’s employees were regularly accessing private data on US users of the app, despite leaked audio saying otherwise.