Tech CEOs subpoenaed for Senate hearing on child online safety

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The Senate Judiciary Committee announced an upcoming Senate hearing in which several subpoenaed Big Tech CEOs are set to testify about prioritizing children’s safety on their social media platforms.

In a news release on Wednesday, Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the chair and ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, said that five Big Tech CEOs will testify in a scheduled hearing on online child sexual exploitation on January 31.

The Senate hearing was previously scheduled to occur on Dec. 6.

Big Tech CEOs expected to testify in the hearing include X (formerly known as Twitter) CEO Linda Yaccarino, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, Discord CEO Jason Citron and Snap CEO Evan Spiegel.

Both lawmakers also said Yaccarino, Citron and Spiegel were issued subpoenas due to their “repeated refusals over weeks of negotiations” to get them to testify on its inquiry.

Both Zuckerberg and Chew voluntarily agreed to testify at the hearing, the committee said.

“When we held our first hearing on protecting children online with experts and advocates earlier this year, Big Tech griped about not getting an invitation. We promised them that their time would come. But when they were offered their chance to testify, some companies outright refused to make their CEOs available. Several companies initially refused to accept a subpoena. The U.S. Marshals Service even attempted to serve the subpoena at Discord’s office. Both actions are remarkable departures from typical practice,” Durbin and Graham said in a joint statement.

“We’ve known from the beginning that our efforts to protect children online would be met with hesitation from Big Tech. They finally are being forced to acknowledge their failures when it comes to protecting kids. Now that all five companies are cooperating, we look forward to hearing from their CEOs,” the statement concludes. “Parents and kids demand action.”

The upcoming hearing comes as social media platform moderation and policies have faced massive scrutiny from Congress, resulting in the Judiciary Committee voting in favor of legislation in the past months that address the growing issue.

Former Facebook employee Arturo Bejar testified before Congress earlier this month, alleging that the company failed to act on reports of harassment and harm facing teens on the platform.

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