Facebook, Twitter and Google CEOs Threatened With Subpoena
By Ryan Tracy
WASHINGTON -- Republicans on the Senate Commerce Committee on
Thursday scheduled an Oct. 1 vote to subpoena testimony from the
CEOs of Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and Alphabet Inc.'s Google, in
the latest GOP action against social-media giants.
The panel, led by Sen. Roger Wicker (R., Miss.), said the
subpoenas would be "for the purpose of testimony at a hearing." A
committee spokeswoman said the hearing, which hasn't been listed on
the panel's website, relates to a legal provision known as Section
230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which gives tech
companies legal immunity from lawsuits related to decisions to take
down or limit the reach of content.
The top Democrat on the panel, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D., Wash.)
objected to subpoenaing the CEOs, calling the move "an attempt to
chill the efforts of these companies to remove lies, harassment and
intimidation from their platforms."
It is unusual for the committee to issue subpoenas, she said,
adding: "I am happy to work with my colleagues to hold further
substantive, bipartisan hearings on how platforms like Facebook,
Google and Twitter need to improve."
The CEOs threatened with subpoenas are Facebook's Mark
Zuckerberg, Twitter's Jack Dorsey, and Google's Sundar Pichai. At
the Oct. 1 meeting, the panel will vote on whether to subpoena the
A Google spokeswoman declined to comment. Representatives of
Twitter and Facebook didn't immediately respond to requests for
The GOP-led panel last week invited the companies to testify,
the committee spokeswoman said.
Hearings with high-profile CEOs can take weeks or more to
schedule. In a separate House probe of Big Tech's market power,
lawmakers and the companies negotiated for months before scheduling
a July hearing with the CEOs of Facebook, Google, Amazon.com Inc.
and Apple Inc.
Earlier this week, Republicans announced other steps in a
monthslong effort by the Trump administration to curb what
officials say are abuses by social-media companies in censoring or
fact-checking online speech.
On Wednesday, the Justice Department sent Congress a proposal
for scaling back l egal protections for large social-media
platforms, and Attorney General William Barr urged state attorneys
general to consider bringing enforcement actions against them if
they act unfairly or deceptively.
President Trump, seated next to Mr. Barr at a White House
meeting Wednesday, said his administration would be watching the
social-media platforms very closely ahead of Election Day after
some of his social-media posts have been removed or labeled as
misleading because they were deemed to violate the platforms'
Write to Ryan Tracy at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
September 24, 2020 22:02 ET (02:02 GMT)
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