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U.S. Treasury Yellen: Twitter should be held to certain standards for content

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U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Wednesday said social media company Twitter should be held to certain standards for content, arguing that it is “not that different” from radio stations and broadcasters subject to such rules.

Speaking at the New York Times Dealbook Summit in New York, Yellen also said she believed that there were legitimate national security concerns related to TikTok, the Chinese-owned video sharing app.

Yellen declined to say whether the Treasury-led Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) was conducting a review of Twitter after some calls for a probe of a Saudi Arabian stake in the company after billionaire Elon Musk’s takeover of the platform.

She said CFIUS looks closely at acquisitions and investments in U.S. firms by foreign buyers that could pose national security risks.

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“I’m not going to say specifically what we are or aren’t looking at,” Yellen said. “We don’t comment on work that’s in progress. But if there are such risks, it would be appropriate for CFIUS to have a look.”

Musk on Monday accused Apple of threatening to block Twitter from its app store and said Apple was pressuring Twitter over content moderation demands.

Yellen said she believed it was appropriate for mobile technology giants Apple and Google to demand certain content standards.

“I think it’s a good thing, if Apple is looking at the content. Most broadcast stations are subjected to standards in terms of what they broadcast to the public. And Twitter’s not really that different than other broadcast stations,” Yellen said.

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Asked if it was good that such platforms were overseeing content, Yellen said. “It’s a kind of control that I think is needed.”

Regarding TikTok, which U.S. FBI Director Chris Wray said raises national security concerns due to the risk that the Chinese government could harness the video-sharing app to influence users or control their devices, Yellen said she also believed there were “legitimate national security concerns.”

“That’s something that’s a case in progress,” Yellen added.

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