Social media CEOs to testify before Senate on online child exploitation in January

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Chief executives from several social media companies, including Meta, X, TikTok, Snap and Discord, are slated to testify at a  Jan. 31 Senate hearing on online child sexual exploitation, according to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Reuters reported that the panel’s chairman, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said X and Discord at first balked at participating in the panel, refusing to accept a subpoena.

Both companies have since agreed to participate.

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“Now that all five companies are cooperating, we look forward to hearing from their CEOs,” Graham and Durban said in a statement.

The five companies participating in the hearing include Meta, X, TikTok, Snap and Discord. 

It will also mark the first appearance by TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew in front of U.S. Lawmakers since he faced a barrage of harsh questions in March, with some suggesting the Chinese-owned app that features short video clips damages children’s mental health.

Congressional lawmakers have legislation before them that would give the Biden administration the power to block Americans from using communications technology from foreign countries, like TikTok.

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Linda Yaccarino

Both Durbin and Graham say the Jan. 31 hearing will give committee members the chance to press CEOs from the biggest social media platforms about failing to protect children from online exploitation.

Along with Shou Zi Chew, the list of those expected to testify include Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, X CEO Linda Yaccarino, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel and Discord CEO Jason Citron.

Meta, X and TikTok did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s inquiries about the hearing.

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TikTok CEO testifies before Congress

“Big Tech’s failure to police itself at the expense of our kids cannot go unanswered,” Durbin and Graham said.

So far this year, the committee has approved several bills, including one that would remove immunity to tech firms from civil and criminal liability under child sexual abuse material laws, which was first proposed in 2020.

Another bill that was approved by the committee includes one that would establish the National Commission on Online Child Exploitation Prevention, as well as one that modernizes investigations and prosecutions of crimes associated with online child exploitation.

“We’ve known from the beginning that our efforts to protect children online would be met with hesitation from Big Tech,” Durbin and Graham said. “They finally are being forced to acknowledge their failures when it comes to protecting kids. “Parents and kids demand action,” the two senators added.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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