Brazilian Senate to hear Google, Facebook, Twitter in pandemic probe

FILE PHOTO: Facebook, Google and Twitter logos are seen in this combination photo from Reuters files.

BRASÍLIA/SÃO PAULO (Reuters) -A Brazilian Senate committee on Wednesday formally approved a request to call representatives of Alphabet Inc's Google , Facebook and Twitter to testify in an ongoing probe into the government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Senators want to look into what role the companies had in helping to spread potentially dangerous misinformation during the pandemic.

Google, Twitter and Facebook said in separate statements they were cooperating with the committee. Google said it had removed 1.2 million videos from its platforms because they violated COVID-19 misinformation guidelines.

Senator Omar Aziz, who presides over the committee, said on Tuesday that while company representatives would testify as witnesses, the firms could eventually come under investigation themselves.

"To prescribe medication via YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, that's a crime," Aziz said during Senate proceedings on Tuesday. "They're being called as witnesses, but, yes, they could be investigated if the commission so decides."

Aziz said senators want to ask the companies how their platforms run, and whether they allow posts propagating medication that has no scientific basis.

(Reporting by Ricardo Brito and Eduardo Simões, writing by Ana Mano; Editing by Christian Plumb, Bernadette Baum and Jane Wardell)

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