Tech CEOs will testify in a Senate hearing on online child safety. California braces for floods and snowfall. And an innocent question from Elmo sets off a wave of trauma.
Here’s what to know today.
Tech CEOs face Senate grilling over online child safety
Five tech leaders are set to testify today before the Senate Judiciary Committee in a hearing to address concerns about how platforms are considering their impact on children.
The CEOs scheduled to testify are X’s Linda Yaccarino, Snap’s Evan Spiegel, Discord’s Jason Citron, TikTok’s Shou Zi Chew and Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg.
Efforts to regulate social media are ramping up amid concerns from parents that platforms don’t do enough to keep their kids safe online. Past committee hearings with tech CEOs have been adversarial, and this hearing is expected to be no different.
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Many of the tech companies involved in today’s hearing have already said they don’t tolerate child sexual exploitation on their platforms, and they point to various tools they already offer as examples of their proactive methods. However, they have been slow to advocate for legislation that would create regulation in their industry.
Today, the CEOs will offer rare policy commitments and regulatory endorsements, representatives from some of the companies said. For example, Yaccarino is expected to offer support for the SHIELD Act, which criminalizes the transmission of nonconsensual intimate images and sexualized depictions of children. Last week Snap became one of the first social media platforms to stand behind the Kids Online Safety Act, or KOSA, which would create a “duty of care” for social media companies that recommend content to minors.
Here’s what else to expect at today’s hearing. Our reporters will also be live blogging throughout the event. Follow along at NBCNews.com.
California braces for floods and feet of snow
San Francisco warned of high winds that could fell trees, heavy rain and potentially flooded streets as storms hit California starting this morning, while residents in the mountains could see 20 inches of snow and “impossible” travel conditions, forecasters said. Storms are set to hit along the coast and feet of snow may fall for the rest of the week as two strong weather systems hit the state. Here’s what forecasters predict for San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and in the Sierra Nevadas.
Chuck Todd: How the border encapsulates 2024 politics
The U.S. seems to have reached a political stalemate over the border and immigration, NBC News chief political analyst Chuck Todd writes in an analysis. On the Democratic side, Todd is “skeptical that Biden wants to own the border.” That leaders in Democratic strongholds like Chicago, New York and Los Angeles have called on the White House to address the migrant crisis gives Biden political cover to give into GOP demands on immigration.
On the other side, it makes sense that Trump and his wing of the Republican party aren’t interested in “helping” Biden, Todd argues. The political theater on immigration — think DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ impeachment — doesn’t carry much political risk. “Unless the voters start judging elected officials on their ability to attempt to solve intractable problems, we will get more of this political theater,” Todd writes. Read the full analysis here.
More 2024 election coverage
- Nikki Haley’s long-shot bid to stop Trump may depend on the unlikeliest of allies: South Carolina Democrats.
- Rep. Jim Clyburn helped Biden win young Black voters in 2020. This time, they’re not listening.
Iran threatens decisive response to any U.S. attack after Biden says he’s chosen retaliation
Iran has warned it would respond decisively to any attack on its territory or interests, after President Joe Biden said he had decided how to retaliate for the drone strike on a base in Jordan that killed three American service members. As the U.S. grapples with how to confront the threat from Tehran-backed militants in the Middle East, a U.S. warship shot down a cruise missile fired by Yemen’s Houthi rebels.
Hamas’ political leader, Ismail Haniyeh, said yesterday that he will travel to Cairo to consider a potential new hostage deal. A senior official Israeli official told NBC News that the country’s war Cabinet has discussed the deal but it has not yet been put to a vote. Meanwhile, a combative Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday that he will “not release thousands of terrorists” or take Israeli forces out of Gaza in any cease-fire.
Follow our live blog.
More coverage of conflict in the Middle East:
- Both the U.S. and Iran have said they don’t want an all-out war. But some analysts and former officials from the West warn the two countries may be sleepwalking toward conflict.
Man killed in house invasion wasn’t supposed to be home
On Thursday, the night before Jorge Reyes-Jungwirth was killed, he received a text message from his boss at the tree removal company where he worked, telling him he didn’t need to come into work the next day. On Friday, Reyes-Jungwirth, his mother and his stepfather, were shot to death when a man wearing a UPS uniform came to their door and was able to get inside their home in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, according to a criminal complaint. A suspect in the triple homicide was charged this week, and a motive for the shootings has yet to be determined.
Now, Reyes-Jungwirth’s friends are left mourning the 20-year-old’s death. His boss “definitely blames himself” for the tragedy, “but we all know that’s not how it is,” said Isaiah Mendez, a friend since sixth grade who also worked at the tree removal service. Another friend, who was with Reyes-Jungwirth on the night before his death, said he was “one of the most unselfish people I’ve met.” Read the full story here.
Today’s Talker: Elmo’s wellness check on social media uncovered…
… existential dread and despair. You may think we’re exaggerating, but answers to Elmo’s post asking, “How is everybody doing?” triggered a massive trauma dump. “Every morning, I cannot wait to go back to sleep. Every Monday, I cannot wait for Friday to come,” one user wrote. There were several other unhinged (and perhaps relatable) responses. And it seems Elmo isn’t one to shy away from tough conversations. In a follow-up post, the Muppet wrote, “Elmo will check in again soon friends! Elmo loves you.”
Politics in Brief
Trump defamation aftermath: Alina Habba, Donald Trump’s attorney in the E. Jean Carroll defamation trial, backed off a conflict of interest claim against the judge who presided over the case after Carroll’s lawyer threatened to pursue sanctions.
Campaign spending probe: The Justice Department is investigating Democratic Rep. Cori Bush for her campaign’s spending on security services.
Georgia election interference case: Nathan Wade, the lead prosecutor in the election interference case against Donald Trump in Georgia, reached a temporary agreement with his wife in their divorce proceedings. A court hearing scheduled for today, during which he was supposed to testify about an alleged improper relationship with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, is now canceled. Meanwhile, officials investigating the recent cyberattack on Fulton County government systems are seeking to determine whether there is any connection to the election interference case.
Fentanyl crisis: American and Chinese officials had “frank and honest discussions” about stemming the flow of fentanyl into the U.S., but Beijing could do much more to help, a U.S. delegate said.
Staff Pick: YouTube’s fake news problem
Fake news YouTube channels that use AI tools to quickly churn out content have recently pivoted to target Black celebrities with salacious, false claims. For this story, I reviewed a dozen YouTube channels and hundreds of videos to assess the scope and evolution of this phenomenon. I found that the celebrities who have been targeted haven’t been able to get the videos taken down, suggesting that social video platforms could be weaponized for far-reaching disinformation efforts in the 2024 election cycle. — Kat Tenbarge, tech reporter
In Case You Missed It
- Plenty of research has linked regular exercise to a lower risk of cancer, but a new study suggests that getting into better shape could reduce the risk of prostate cancer in particular, a diagnosis that around 113 out of every 100,000 men get every year in the U.S.
- The music of Taylor Swift, Drake, Olivia Rodrigo, among many others, will disappear from TikTok by the end of today unless the social media giant can agree a deal with Universal Music Group.
- A Pennsylvania man has been arrested after allegedly killing his own father, before displaying his decapitated head in a gruesome YouTube video while spouting right-wing conspiracy theories.
- A Delaware judge voided the $56 billion pay package of Tesla CEO Elon Musk, ruling that the company’s board of directors failed to prove “that the compensation plan was fair.”
- Legendary Broadway performer Chita Rivera, star of “West Side Story,” “Chicago” and “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” has died at the age of 91.
- Millions of college students are in financial aid limbo until at least early March after the Education Department decided to fix an error on its FAFSA forms.
- A woman survived being compacted among trash after getting dumped in a New Hampshire garbage truck.
- The Tropicana Las Vegas, a Sin City landmark since 1957, will be demolished to make way for a Major League Baseball stadium.
Select: Online Shopping, Simplified
You can’t go wrong with flowers or a box of chocolates for Valentine’s Day, but if you want to get something your loved ones will cherish long after Feb. 14, consider these 47 heartfelt options.
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