Senators Subpoena Big Tech CEOs to Testify About Child Safety on Social Media

Two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have issued bipartisan subpoenas to the CEOs of three major social media platforms, demanding that they testify about what their companies are doing to protect children from sexual exploitation on the platforms.

As reported by the Daily Caller, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) subpoenaed the CEOs of Discord, Snap, and X, formerly known as Twitter, to force them to testify before the committee on the matter. Besides those three, the CEOs of Facebook, now known as Meta, and TikTok are expected to voluntarily testify on the same subject

“Since the beginning of this Congress, our Committee has rallied around a key bipartisan issue: protecting children from the dangers of the online world,” the two senators said in a joint statement. “It’s at the top of every parent’s mind, and Big Tech’s failure to police itself at the expense of our kids cannot go unanswered.”

Despite weeks of negotiations, the three CEOs refused to participate willingly, thus forcing the senators to use the U.S. Marshals Service to deliver the subpoenas to the leaders of Discord and X.

“Hearing from the CEOs of some of the world’s largest social media companies will help inform the Committee’s efforts to address the crisis of online child sexual exploitation,” the senators added.

X, which was known as Twitter prior to Elon Musk’s purchase of the site last year, has attempted to crack down on sexual exploitation of children, but a few gaps remain. A study by Stanford Internet Observatory looked at a set of 100,000 images posted to the site from March to May, and out of this set found about 40 pictures that were flagged as child sexual exploitation.

The company has since said in a statement that the CEO simply had a conflicting appointment on the planned date of testimony.

“We have been working in good faith to participate in the Judiciary committee’s hearing on child protection online as safety is our top priority at X,” said Wifredo Fernandez, the head of the platform’s US & Canada Government Affairs.

Snap, more popularly known as SnapChat, is a platform where users can exchange pictures with each other that disappear after a certain period of time, and thus frequently involves the exchange of sexual content. It was identified by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation as “one of the most dangerous” platforms, though changes have been made by the company in recent months.

“Snap’s CEO has already agreed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and our team is coordinating with Committee staff on potential dates,” a spokesman for the company said in a statement.

Discord, a site that heavily features the use of voice calls and voice group chats and is popular with gamers in particular, has been described by NBC News as a major hub of sexual exploitation of children, with 165 cases of adults facing prosecution for the use of Discord for these purposes.

“Keeping our users safe, especially young people, is central to everything we do at Discord,” a Discord spokesman said in a statement. “We have been actively engaging with the Committee on how we can best contribute to this important industry discussion.”

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About Eric Lendrum

Eric Lendrum graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was the Secretary of the College Republicans and the founding chairman of the school’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter. He has interned for Young America’s Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, and the White House, and has worked for numerous campaigns including the 2018 re-election of Congressman Devin Nunes (CA-22). He is currently a co-host of The Right Take podcast.

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