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Big Tech CEOs subpoenaed to testify before Senate about efforts to protect kids online

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A Senate committee on Monday subpoenaed the CEOs of Big Tech companies to testify before Congress about efforts to protect children online.

Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the ranking member of the committee, announced they issued subpoenas to the CEOs of Discord, Snap and X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, to appear before a committee hearing on Dec. 6. The senators said in a press release that committee members will ask CEOs about "their failures to protect children online."

"Since the beginning of this Congress, our Committee has rallied around a key bipartisan issue: protecting children from the dangers of the online world. 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," the senators said in a joint statement.

"At our February hearing on protecting children's safety online, we promised Big Tech that they'd have their chance to explain their failures to protect kids. Now's that chance. 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," they continued.

The press release also noted the committee expects the CEOs of Meta and TikTok — Mark Zuckerberg and Shou Zi Chew, respectively — to voluntarily testify at the hearing.

The senators accused X and Discord of failing "to cooperate by accepting service of the subpoenas on behalf of their CEOs." The committee needed the assistance of the U.S. Marshals Service to "personally serve the subpoenas," the senators added.

X and Snap have signaled that their leaders will be participating in the hearing.

"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. Today we are communicating our updated availability to participate in a hearing on this important issue," Wifredo Fernandez, head of U.S. and Canada Government Affairs for X, said in a statement to The Hill.

"Snap's CEO has already agreed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and our team is coordinating with Committee staff on potential dates. We appreciate the opportunity to appear before the Committee to discuss this vital issue," a spokesperson for Snap said in a statement to The Hill.

A spokesperson for Discord said that the company will work with the committee.

"Keeping our users safe, especially young people, is central to everything we do at Discord. We have been actively engaging with the Committee on how we can best contribute to this important industry discussion," the spokesperson said in a statement. "We welcome the opportunity to work together as an industry and with the Committee."

Big Tech companies' content moderation policies and approaches to child safety have faced scrutiny in both chambers of Congress. Senators heard testimony from a former Facebook employee earlier this month who alleged the company failed to act on reports of harassment and harm facing teens on the platform.

Updated at 3:37 p.m. E.S.T.

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