Social media giants called to Senate probe

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Rebecca Gredley
(Australian Associated Press)

 

TikTok, Facebook, Twitter and Google officials have been invited to give evidence at a Senate inquiry into foreign interference through social media.

Video-sharing platform TikTok said it would be represented at the August 21 hearing.

Other platforms have been asked to appear in September.

“TikTok is committed to transparent dialogue with our community, including policymakers and we will work with the committee as we engage with this process,” it said in a statement on Tuesday.

“TikTok welcomes ongoing discussions with government audiences as we work to remain a safe, fun and creative platform for people to express themselves.”

The inquiry is looking at the use of social media for purposes that undermine Australia’s democracy and values, including through misinformation.

It’s also looking at ways to reduce such risks and international responses to cyber foreign interference.

The federal government is keeping a close eye on TikTok over fears it shares user data with China, an accusation the social media company denies.

The company has recently beefed up its campaign to clear its name, insisting it would never share data with Beijing.

TikTok says Australian data is stored in the US and Singapore.

RMIT cyber security researcher Matt Warren is more concerned about how much data is being taken and how it is used.

TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, which also works on artificial intelligence.

The app not only accesses a phone’s camera and microphone, but the contact list and information from other apps including location data.

In its submission to the inquiry, Twitter outlined steps it’s taking to combat fake accounts, spam and state-backed information operations.

The company has banned political advertising and doesn’t allow state-controlled news media entities to buy ads.

In regards to misinformation, Twitter says it’s not attempting to address all of it.

“We are focused on where we can make the biggest impact and add context in a way that dovetails with the fundamental nature of our service, which is open, real-time, and conversational,” its submission says.

“Our overarching goal is to provide context, not fact-check.”

Twitter has taken steps to crackdown on US President Donald Trump in recent months, adding “manipulated media” to doctored videos he’s shared as well as fact-check warnings to two of his tweets on mail-in voting.

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