CEOs of major social media platforms to testify in Senate hearing on child sexual exploitation

Icons of social media platforms | Credits: Stock.adobe
Icons of social media platforms | Credits: Stock.adobe

United States: The Senate Judiciary Committee has revealed that the CEOs of Meta (META.O), TikTok, X (formerly Twitter), Snapchat (SNAP.N), and Discord will appear at a US Senate hearing on January 31 to testify about child sexual exploitation. The committee made this announcement on Wednesday.

Discord and X initially expressed hesitation about participating and declined to accept the subpoena, as stated by Dick Durbin, the Democratic chairman, and Lindsey Graham, the ranking Republican.

According to reports from Reuters, both Durbin and Graham were quoted saying, “Now that all five companies are cooperating, we look forward to hearing from their CEOs.”

TikTok’s CEO, Shou Zi Chew, will make his first appearance before US lawmakers since March, when the short video app faced intense scrutiny. Concerns have been raised by some parents about the app’s potential negative impact on children’s mental health.

It’s worth noting that proposed legislation granting the Biden administration the authority to restrict Americans from using foreign applications, including TikTok, has stalled in Congress. Official statistics indicate that as many as 150 million Americans use the TikTok application.

The upcoming hearing with the CEOs of major social media platforms is expected to provide an opportunity for committee members to underscore the importance of safeguarding children on online platforms.

CEO of Meta Mark Zuckerberg | Credits: Getty Images

The CEOs slated to testify include Mark Zuckerberg of Meta, Linda Yaccarino of X, Jason Citron of Discord, and Evan Spiegel of Snap, according to reports. In a joint statement, Durbin and Graham emphasized, “Big Tech’s failure to police itself at the expense of our kids cannot go unanswered.”

The committee has approved several bills this year, one of which removes tech firms’ immunity from civil and criminal liability under child sexual abuse material laws, initially proposed in 2020. Another bill focuses on establishing a National Commission for Online Child Sexual Exploitation Prevention. Additionally, a third bill aims to modernize investigations and prosecutions of online child exploitation crimes, as reported by Reuters.