Social media's negative impact on children's and young adults' mental health has been a growing cause of concern for parents and lawmakers. Now, the CEOs of Meta, TikTok, Snap, Discord and X are set to testify in front of the US Senate Judiciary Committee on "their failure to protect children online." Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew are willing participants. Snap CEO Evan Spiegel, Discord CEO Jason Citron and X CEO Linda Yaccarino are testifying after being subpoenaed.
Senator Dick Durbin, chair of the Judiciary Committee, and Senator Lindsey Graham, its ranking member, released a statement expressing their frustration with Snap, Discord, and X's initial refusal to have their CEOs participate and even accept the subpoenas. In Discord's case, US Marshals visited their offices to serve the document.
The senators further shared a feeling of hypocrisy at these platforms wanting a say in policy but fighting against getting involved in discussions. "When we held our first hearing on protecting children online with experts and advocates earlier this year, Big Tech griped about not getting an invitation. We promised them that their time would come," Durbin and Graham stated. "We've known from the beginning that our efforts to protect children online would be met with hesitation from Big Tech. They finally are being forced to acknowledge their failures when it comes to protecting kids. Now that all five companies are cooperating, we look forward to hearing from their CEOs. Parents and kids demand action."
The Judiciary Committee has focused on this issue a great deal throughout the year, approving bills that would force online platforms to take more responsibility in protecting children (and be more transparent in their efforts) and improve reporting of online child sexual exploitation, among other steps. The hearing with the CEOs from the five tech giants was originally set for December but will now take place on January 31, 2024, at 10 AM ET.