A Senate panel voted unanimously Thursday to subpoena the CEOs of Facebook, Google and Twitter to testify about the legal immunity social media platforms enjoy under current U.S. law.
The Senate commerce committee authorized subpoenas to be issued for Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Google’s Sundar Pichai and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey for a potential hearing on the tech industry’s key legal shield, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
The move to issue subpoenas came at the urging of committee chairman Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and with the assent of ranking member Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington, who had initially opposed the measure.
Republicans on the committee want to focus on Section 230, a measure that shields social media companies from liability over what is posted on their platforms.
President Donald Trump signed an executive order in May which could pave the way toward toppling those legal protections if companies engage in “selective censorship” harmful to national discourse.
He and other Republicans contend that Twitter and Facebook intentionally suppress conservative viewpoints on their platforms — allegations the companies have vehemently denied.
Cantwell and other Democrats on the committee gave their support for the subpoenas after language was added expanding the scope of the hearing to include privacy and antitrust issues.
They remained concerned, however, that the hearing will be used to score partisan political points and intimidate the tech platforms with the November election looming.
“This appears to me like an attempt to work the refs coming up to the election,” said Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii.
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