Senate Judiciary Committee Authorizes Subpoenas for Twitter and Facebook CEOs

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The Senate Judiciary Committee authorized its chairman to issue subpoenas to the chief executives of

Facebook Inc.

and

Twitter Inc.

after the companies limited sharing of New York Post articles regarding the son of Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

The Republican-led panel voted 12-0 to authorize Chairman Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) to issue subpoenas to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter’s Jack Dorsey.

The vote will “hopefully give us some leverage to secure their testimony,” Mr. Graham said.

Congress typically negotiates with companies to receive voluntary testimony at hearings, opting for subpoenas only if executives resist. No date has been set for a Judiciary Committee hearing.

Facebook and Twitter declined to comment.

Democrats sat out the meeting, as they boycotted a separate committee vote to advance Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett to the full Senate.

Twitter last week blocked users from posting links to the New York Post articles, initially citing the potential that the materials had been hacked, which would violate company policy. The company later said the articles also violated its policies on displaying private information such as email addresses and phone numbers without a person’s permission. Mr. Dorsey said at the time that the company’s failure to give context around its actions was unacceptable.

Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who the New York Post said gave it a copy of the hard drive, told the Journal last week he didn’t know if the material published by the Post had come from a hack. He then said on a satellite-radio program that “categorically, this has not been hacked.”

Twitter subsequently said it would no longer remove hacked content unless it is shared by hackers or those working with them. It also said it would label tweets to provide additional context instead of blocking links from being shared.

Twitter’s move came after Facebook also limited the distribution of the articles on its platform, saying it was awaiting guidance from its third-party fact-checking partners. Facebook slowed the spread of the Post articles pending a decision by those partners, a spokesman said last week.

Messrs. Zuckerberg and Dorsey, along with

Alphabet Inc.

Chief Executive Sundar Pichai, are already set to testify Oct. 28 before the Senate Commerce Committee about their policies for moderating content on their platforms.

That hearing will center on Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields social-media platforms from liability for user content.

As text messages, digital ads and social media continue to embed themselves deeper into our pandemic days and lives, an unprecedented amount of political misinformation and disinformation threatens to disrupt the 2020 election. Illustration: Preston Jessee for The Wall Street Journal

Twitter also locked the New York Post’s account last week, saying the newspaper had violated its rules. Twitter said the account would be reinstated if the Post deleted the tweets related to its reporting on Mr. Biden’s son Hunter Biden that led to the account freeze.

A New York Post spokeswoman declined to comment on the matter. In an article published Wednesday, the Post described the blocking of its Twitter account as a “hostage situation.”

The New York Post is owned by

News Corp

, which also owns The Wall Street Journal.

Write to Siobhan Hughes at [email protected] and Sarah E. Needleman at [email protected]

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

Appeared in the October 23, 2020, print edition as ‘Senate Panel Can Subpoena Tech CEOs.’



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