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Big Tech CEOs are headed to DC to face the Senate over child safety online

Linda Yaccarino on the stage at Vox Media's 2023 Code Conference
X CEO Linda Yaccarino.Jerod Harris/Getty Images
  • Congress is set to grill leaders from Meta, X, TikTok, and other tech companies about child safety.

  • TikTok's CEO plans to announce $2 billion for user safety at the hearing.

  • It will also be X CEO Linda Yaccarino's first time testifying before Congress.

Tech leaders are arriving in Washington, DC — voluntarily or not — to answer for their platforms' efforts to protect kids from sexual exploitation.

And already, TikTok's CEO is planning to promise some major changes.

The hearing Wednesday in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee came together after three of the tech companies — Snap, Discord, and X — were issued subpoenas to testify.

This will be X CEO Linda Yaccarino's first time testifying before lawmakers — a task that's become a rite of passage for social media companies in hot water over digital security.

Yaccarino, who took over as CEO of X from Elon Musk last June, arrived in DC early to meet with several committee members ahead of the hearing, sources told Axios.

She'll be joined at the 10 a.m. ET hearing by Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, and Discord CEO Jason Citron.

Chew plans to announce that TikTok will spend $2 billion to protect children and other users on the site, according to Bloomberg, as the video platform deals with increasing criticism from US lawmakers.

The committee will be grilling the CEOs on online safety for kids as lawmakers push ahead on legislation geared toward more digital protections.

The hearing comes as reports pile up on social media companies' shortcomings in protecting kids and images of them from predators.

For example, a June 2023 investigation by The Wall Street Journal found that Instagram promoted networks of pedophiles selling underage sex images. In response, Meta told the Journal that it had set up a task force to address its enforcement problems: "Child exploitation is a horrific crime," the company told the Journal. "We're continuously investigating ways to actively defend against this behavior."

Another example that may come up at the hearing is the prevalence of child porn on X — even after former head Elon Musk himself tweeted that "removing child exploitation is priority #1" — according to a 2023 report from The New York Times. A representative from the company told the Times that the company was bringing on new employees to address the issues raised by the investigation.

Over the weekend, X announced plans to hire 100 full-time workers for a yet-to-be-opened content moderation hub in Austin aimed at addressing child sexual exploitation on its platform.

Read the original article on Business Insider