Senate panel subpoenas CEOs of Discord, Snap and X to testify about children's safety online

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Senate committee has issued bipartisan subpoenas to the CEOs of Discord, Snap and X, demanding that the heads of the three companies testify at a December hearing on protecting children online.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, the top Republican on the panel, announced Monday that they had issued the subpoenas to Discord CEO Jason Citron, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel and Linda Yaccarino, the CEO of X, formerly known as Twitter, “after repeated refusals to appear” during weeks of negotiations.

"Big Tech’s failure to police itself at the expense of our kids cannot go unanswered,” the two senators said in a statement about the Dec. 6 hearing, which will focus on child sexual exploitation online.

The committee said that “in a remarkable departure from typical practice," Discord and X refused to accept service of the subpoenas and the panel was forced to enlist the U.S. Marshals Service to personally subpoena the CEOs.

In response to the subpoenas, all three companies said that they will work with the committee. But none committed to the Dec. 6 hearing.

“Snap’s CEO has already agreed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and our team is coordinating with committee staff on potential dates," Snap said in a statement.

Discord said that "keeping our users safe, especially young people, is central to everything we do at Discord. We have been actively engaging with the committee on how we can best contribute to this important industry discussion.""

Wifredo Fernandez, the head of U.S. and Canada government affairs at X, said in a statement that the company has been working “in good faith” to participate because safety is the company's top priority. "Today we are communicating our updated availability to participate in a hearing on this important issue,” Fernandez said.

Durbin and Graham said the committee remains in discussions with both Meta and TikTok and expects their CEOs, Mark Zuckerberg and Shou Zi Chew, to testify voluntarily.

Social media companies have faced criticism from lawmakers, regulators and the public for harms their platforms cause to children and teenagers. Most recently, Meta was sued by 41 states and Washington, D.C. for contributing to the youth mental health crisis by knowingly designing features on Instagram and Facebook that addict teenagers to the platforms.


Ortutay reported from San Francisco.