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Senate panel votes to compel Facebook, Twitter CEOs to testify

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Oct 23, 2020 - 08:05 AM

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans voted Thursday to subpoena Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg as part of a stepped-up assault on social media’s handling of online political content.

The Senate Judiciary Committee move comes a week after the internet platforms came under fire for limiting the reach of a New York Post article critical of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

The 12 Republican senators voted for the subpoena, with Democrats boycotting over the accelerated hearings on Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett. No date was immediately given for a hearing.

Committee chairman Lindsey Graham said that despite the abstentions from Democrats, “I think there’s a lot of interest on the other side (in) getting some of the social media folks here to answer questions about their platforms.”

He said the panel wanted to question the executives on their actions “relating to online content modernization.”

The move comes amid an intense assault on Big Tech from political leaders from both parties ahead of the November 3 elections.

Earlier this week the Trump administration filed a landmark antitrust suit against Google. House Democrats meanwhile issued a lengthy report this month outlining what they considered monopoly abuses by major tech firms.

CEOs of Twitter, Facebook and Google are already slated to testify next week at a separate Senate panel examining the Section 230 law which offers liability protection for content posted by others on their platforms.

Republican Senator Ted Cruz said last week he wanted Facebook and Twitter “explain why Twitter is abusing their corporate power to silence the press.”

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