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Congress Demands Social Media CEOs Testify on Impact of Platforms on Children

The Senate Judiciary Committee issued subpoenas to the CEOs of major social media platforms to testify on their products’ alleged harm to children. They focused on X, Snapchat, and Discord.

Sens. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said that the tech platforms’ failure to protect children must not go unanswered by Congress.

The duo wants social media CEOs to testify at a December hearing on the potential risk for children using the platforms.

“We promised Big Tech that they’d have their chance to explain their failures to protect kids. Now’s that chance,” the senators said in a statement. “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.”

Subpoenas from Mr. Durbin, the judiciary committee chairman, were sent to CEOs at X, formerly Twitter; Snap, and Discord. The demands to the three platforms request the executives’ appearance at a Dec. 6 committee hearing.

Mr. Durbin and Mr. Graham’s offices said the subpoenas were necessary after repeated refusals during several weeks of negotiations.

Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, said it already planned to cooperate instead of declining to engage with the committee.

“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 Snap spokesperson said in a statement. “We appreciate the opportunity to appear before the committee to discuss this vital issue.”

Other social media companies also seem likely to cooperate with Congress. The judiciary committee expects the CEOs of TikTok and Meta, which oversees Facebook and Instagram, to voluntarily testify, according to the offices of Mr. Durbin and Mr. Graham.

Thirty-three states sued Meta in October over allegations that the company exposed children to harmful social media features to maximize profits.

The social media industry as a whole has also become a target on the 2024 presidential campaign trail.

For instance, GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley has suggested requiring social media companies to ban people who post anonymously due to national security concerns.

The former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations partially walked back the proposal last week, expressing concern about anonymous foreign social media accounts, particularly from China, Russia, and Iran.

Discord did not respond to a request for comment and X replied with an automatic reply saying it was busy.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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