The Senate Judiciary Committee subpoenaed the CEOs of major social media platforms to testify on their products’ alleged danger to children, zeroing in Monday on X, Snapchat and Discord.
Sens. Richard Durbin, Illinois Democrat, and Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, said the tech platforms’ failing to police themselves at the expense of children must not go unanswered by Congress.
The duo wants social media CEOs to testify at a December hearing on potential risk for children who use the tech products.
“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 on Monday 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.
Rather than declining to engage with the committee, Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, said it already planned to cooperate.
“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 appear 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.
Senators are not the only ones scrutinizing the social media CEOs. Thirty-three states sued Meta in October over allegations that the company exposed children to harmful social media features in an effort to maximize profits.
The social media industry writ large has also emerged as a punching bag on the 2024 presidential campaign trail.
For example, GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley has proposed requiring social media companies to ban people who post anonymously because of national security concerns.
The former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations partially walked back the proposal last week, saying she was concerned about anonymous foreign social media accounts, particularly from China, Russia, and Iran.
Discord did not respond to a request for comment and X answered with an automatic reply saying it was busy.
• This story is based in part on wire service reports.