Republicans on Senate panel subpoena Facebook, Twitter CEOs

Republicans on Senate panel subpoena Facebook, Twitter CEOs
© Greg Nash

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Thursday to subpoena the chief executives of Facebook and Twitter a week after both platforms limited the spread of a controversial article about Hunter Biden, Democratic presidential nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenMinnesota certifies Biden victory Trump tells allies he plans to pardon Michael Flynn: report Biden says staff has spoken with Fauci: 'He's been very, very helpful' MORE's son.

The panel voted 12-0 to compel the testimony of Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergDemocrats urge YouTube to remove election misinformation, step up efforts ahead of Georgia runoff Democrats press Facebook, Twitter on misinformation efforts ahead of Georgia runoff Hillicon Valley: Facebook content moderators demand more workplace protections | Ousted cyber official blasts Giuliani press conference | Tech firms fall short on misinformation targeting Latino vote MORE and Jack Dorsey. The Democrats on the committee had boycotted the hearing over the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettMcConnell pushed Trump to nominate Barrett on the night of Ginsburg's death: report Federal appeals court sides with Texas, Louisiana efforts to cut Planned Parenthood's Medicaid funding The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump OKs transition; Biden taps Treasury, State experience MORE.

Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone declined to comment. Twitter also declined to comment. 


It is not clear when the Judiciary hearing would take place.

Both CEOs, along with Google parent company Alphabet's Sundar Pichai, are scheduled to testify before the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday. That hearing is to focus on content moderation, data privacy and media consolidation.

Thursday’s vote came about a week after Facebook and Twitter moved to restrict the spread of a controversial article in the New York Post suggesting that Hunter Biden had organized a meeting between a Ukrainian businessman and his father, who was vice president at the time. That claim was based on emails obtained from a hard drive with no substantive links to anyone involved.

Conservatives seized on the social media platforms' decisions to accuse them of anticonservative bias and attack their legal liability shield.

That law, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, is likely to come under fire during any hearing with the Big Tech CEOs.

Section 230, which has faced increased scrutiny since President TrumpDonald John TrumpMinnesota certifies Biden victory Trump tells allies he plans to pardon Michael Flynn: report Republican John James concedes in Michigan Senate race MORE targeted it in an executive order in May, gives internet companies immunity from lawsuits for content posted on their sites by third parties and allows them to make "good faith" efforts to moderate content.