November 21, 2023 @ 7:21 AM
The Senate sent the U.S. Marshals to serve subpoenas to the CEOs of X, Snap and Discord on Monday, after weeks-long negotiations to have them testify at a hearing on online safety for children broke down.
The subpoenas are a rare step as company executives typically testify before Congress voluntarily. They demand that X CEO Linda Yaccarino, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel and Discord CEO Jason Citron appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Dec. 6, committee Chair Sen. Dick Durbin said in a statement.
The situation was further compounded by having to turn to the Marshals to serve the subpoenas.
“In a remarkable departure from typical practice, Discord and X have further refused to cooperate by accepting service of the subpoenas on behalf of their CEOs, requiring the committee to enlist the assistance of the U.S. Marshals Service to personally serve the subpoenas,” the statement said.
Snap said in a statement that “Snap’s CEO has already agreed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and our team is coordinating with committee staff on potential dates. We appreciate the opportunity to appear before the committee to discuss this vital issue.”
X responded to a request for comment early Tuesday with its standard auto-reply, “Busy now, please check back later.”
Yaccarino posted multiple times on X Monday, but was focused on the flap over Media Matters’ findings regarding advertising and antisemitic content and the company’s lawsuit filed against the media watchdog.
“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,” Wifredo Fernandez, head of U.S. and Canada Government Affairs for X, said. “Today we are communicating our updated availability to participate in a hearing on this important issue.”
Discord did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment. A Discord spokesman told The Hill: “We have been actively engaging with the Committee on how we can best contribute to this important industry discussion. We welcome the opportunity to work together as an industry and with the Committee.”
Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and TikTok CEO Zhou Chew are also expected to testify before the committee, Durbin’s statement said, adding that the two CEOs are still “in discussion” about appearing voluntarily.
“At our February hearing on protecting children’s safety online, we promised Big Tech that they’d have their chance to explain their failures to protect kids,” Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, and Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said in a joint statement. “Now’s that chance. 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.”
The committee is considering at least five bills that would address various aspects of online behavior, including one that the statement said “removes tech’s blanket immunity from civil and criminal liability under child sexual abuse material laws and establishes a National Commission on Online Child Sexual Exploitation Prevention.”