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Lawmakers subpoena Big Tech CEOs to testify on child sexual exploitation

by

Daily Caller News Foundation

Two senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee have subpoenaed the CEOs of Discord, Snap and X — formerly Twitter — to testify about child safety in December.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois subpoenaed the CEOs to force them to testify, they told the Daily Caller News Foundation. The committee expects the CEOs of TikTok and Meta to testify willingly and wants to hear all of their testimonies to assist in tackling the plight of children experiencing sexual exploitation online.

“Since the beginning of this Congress, our Committee has rallied around a key bipartisan issue: protecting children from the dangers of the online world,” Durbin and Graham said in a statement shared with the DCNF. “It’s at the top of every parent’s mind, and Big Tech’s failure to police itself at the expense of our kids cannot go unanswered.”

The CEOs of Discord, Snap and X repeatedly declined to show up in the span of weeks of negotiating, they told the DCNF. They had to get the U.S. Marshals Service to give the subpoenas to Discord and X.

“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,” they added.

Discord, a social media site first set up for gamers, has been a hub for child sexual exploitation including grooming and sextortion, NBC News reported in June. The outlet found 165 cases where adults faced prosecution for using Discord to exchange sexually explicit images of children or to allegedly extort them into distributing explicit images of themselves, and 35 cases, 15 to which the defendants pleaded guilty, where adults used it to kidnap, groom or sexually assault children.

Snap was “one of the most dangerous” platforms for child sex abuse, but it has made significant changes as of September, according to the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.

Stanford Internet Observatory identified over 40 pictures on X that got flagged as child sexual exploitation content in a set of about 100,000 posts from March to May, The Wall Street Journal reported.

A Meta whistleblower recently shared findings that 24% of teens were victims of undesired sexual advances, according to NPR.

TikTok has also faced accusations of enabling sexual abuse and exploitation of minors on the app despite its assurance that policies “prohibit content that depicts or disseminates child abuse, child nudity, or sexual exploitation of children in digital or real-world format.”

X told the DCNF it is cooperating with the committee but its CEO has a conflict on the testimony date.

“We have been working in good faith to participate in the Judiciary committee’s hearing on child protection online as safety is our top priority at X,” X’s Head of US & Canada Government Affairs Wifredo Fernandez told the DCNF. “Today we are communicating our updated availability to participate in a hearing on this important issue.”

Discord, Meta, Snap and TikTok did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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Republished with permission from Daily Caller News Foundation

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