All the news from Congress’ Big Tech child safety hearing

Looking to push through new online child safety laws, the Senate Judiciary Committee has summoned five tech CEOs to testify in front of Congress. The committee has asked Linda Yaccarino of X, Shou Zi Chew of TikTok, Evan Spiegel of Snap, Mark Zuckerberg of Meta, and Jason Citron of Discord to answer questions on the topic of “Big Tech and the online child sexual exploitation crisis.”

All the platforms in question have been accused of facilitating child exploitation, despite well-publicized pledges to crack down on abuse. But the proposed legislative solutions are controversial, too. The most prominent is the Kids Online Safety Act, which would create a legal “duty of care” toward underage users — but could also chill constitutionally protected speech.

  • TODAY, 5 minutes ago

    Lauren Feiner

    Advocates stand silently in hearing room with photos of kids.

    As the room filled up with members of the public, several rows of advocates stood silently and in unison with images of teens or children. They remained standing for many minutes until the chair banged the gavel.

    Advocates in hearing room awaiting tech CEO testimony stand with photos of teens and kids.

    Advocates in hearing room awaiting tech CEO testimony stand with photos of teens and kids.

    a:hover]:text-gray-63 [&>a:hover]:shadow-underline-black dark:[&>a:hover]:text-gray-bd dark:[&>a:hover]:shadow-underline-gray [&>a]:shadow-underline-gray-63 dark:[&>a]:text-gray-bd dark:[&>a]:shadow-underline-gray”>Lauren Feiner
  • The child safety hearing is starting with a video of victims.

    Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) has just kicked off the event, and now we’re hearing from parents and children who were targeted by child predators on platforms like Facebook.

  • TODAY, 27 minutes ago

    Lauren Feiner

    The hearing room is buzzing ahead of five tech CEOs’ testimony.

    We’re on Capitol Hill now, awaiting the testimony of the five tech CEOs: X’s Linda Yaccarino, TikTok’s Shou Zi Chew, Snap’s Evan Spiegel, Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg, and Discord’s Jason Citron. People have just started to take their seats and settle in for what is likely to be a lengthy event.

    Hearing room on Capitol Hill filled with people awaiting the testimony of five tech CEOs: X’s Linda Yaccarino, TikTok’s Shou Zi Chew, Snap’s Evan Spiegel, Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg, and Discord’s Jason Citron.

    Hearing room on Capitol Hill filled with people awaiting the testimony of five tech CEOs: X’s Linda Yaccarino, TikTok’s Shou Zi Chew, Snap’s Evan Spiegel, Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg, and Discord’s Jason Citron.

    a:hover]:text-gray-63 [&>a:hover]:shadow-underline-black dark:[&>a:hover]:text-gray-bd dark:[&>a:hover]:shadow-underline-gray [&>a]:shadow-underline-gray-63 dark:[&>a]:text-gray-bd dark:[&>a]:shadow-underline-gray”>Lauren Feiner
  • Mark Zuckerberg testifies in front of a microphone in a hearing in Congress

    Mark Zuckerberg testifies in front of a microphone in a hearing in Congress

    a:hover]:text-gray-63 [&>a:hover]:shadow-underline-black dark:[&>a:hover]:text-gray-bd dark:[&>a:hover]:shadow-underline-gray [&>a]:shadow-underline-gray-63 dark:[&>a]:text-gray-bd dark:[&>a]:shadow-underline-gray”>Photo by Aurora Samperio/NurPhoto via Getty Images

    Today, the US Senate Judiciary Committee will hear testimony from five CEOs of major tech companies: Linda Yaccarino of X, Shou Zi Chew of TikTok, Evan Spiegel of Snap, Mark Zuckerberg of Meta, and Jason Citron of Discord. The executives will answer questions on the topic of “Big Tech and the online child sexual exploitation crisis,” an ongoing issue for a Congress that’s introduced numerous child safety bills in recent years.

    The hearing has been months in the making and apparently involved a little strong-arming from Congress, which reportedly sent US Marshals to subpoena Yaccarino and Citron. It begins at 10AM ET and will likely last several hours as lawmakers seize their opportunity to yell at some of both parties’ favorite bêtes noires. Chew and Zuckerberg have both been the subject of congressional hearings — Zuckerberg starting in 2018 after Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal, Chew in 2023 amid efforts to ban TikTok in the US. (Zuckerberg was also nearly held in contempt of Congress last year, too.)

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  • TikTok’s moderation team is 400 times larger than Elon’s.

    At least it will be once X, formerly Twitter, hires 100 employees into its new trust and safety team to moderate its roughly 500M global monthly users.

    In the run-up to a child sexual exploitation hearing later today with tech CEOs at the US Senate, TikTok says it will spend more than $2 billion on trust and safety globally, administered by a team of more than 40,000 people. TikTok now has over 170 million monthly active users just in the US, up from 150 million last year, and about 1 billion users globally.

  • A picture of Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg in front of a stylized Meta logo.

    A picture of Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg in front of a stylized Meta logo.

    Some of the biggest names in tech will testify before the US Senate on January 31st, 2024 during a hearing about online child exploitation. In a Wednesday announcement, the Senate Judiciary Committee said it will hear from Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, X (formerly Twitter) CEO Linda Yaccarino, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel, and Discord CEO Jason Citron.

    Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) issued subpoenas for Yaccarino, Spiegel, and Citron earlier this month after receiving “repeated refusals to appear during several weeks of negotiations.” Zuckerberg and Chew voluntarily agreed to testify. The senators say the hearing will give the CEOs the chance to “testify about their failure to protect children online.”

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