The CEOs of Facebook and Twitter are in talks with House lawmakers to testify at a hearing as early as next month, according to people familiar with the plans.
Facebook has discussed making chief Mark Zuckerberg available to appear before the House Energy and Commerce Committee, according to two people, as has Twitter and its chief Jack Dorsey, one of the people said. Committee leaders are scrutinizing the platforms’ handling of coronavirus misinformation and violent content in the wake of the Capitol riot.
The exact focus of the hearing is not yet clear. House E&C Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) last month announced plans to investigate what role the platforms’ played in the storming of the Capitol by former President Donald Trump’s supporters. The committee, which has broad jurisdiction over a range of technology and health issues, has separately scrutinized social media companies’ efforts to combat Covid-19 misinformation, particularly anti-vaccine content.
A firm date has not yet been set for the session, said the people, who requested anonymity to discuss private talks, but it could come as early as March. One person said the CEOs’ appearance could be contingent on them testifying jointly alongside Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
If the CEOs appear, it could mark the third time in less than six months that Dorsey and Zuckerberg have testified before Congress, and the second appearance for Pichai in that time. Lawmakers have been taking the tech companies to task for issues ranging from potential antitrust violations to the way social media companies handle misleading content.
Spokespeople for Facebook, Google, Twitter and the House Energy and Commerce Committee did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
All three chief executives appeared before the Senate Commerce Committee in October to testify about an online liability shield, known as Section 230, that lawmakers have blamed for a litany of alleged bad behavior by the tech industry. The Senate Judiciary Committee summoned Zuckerberg and Dorsey again in November to rebut Republicans’ accusations that the companies censor conservative content.
Zuckerberg and Pichai earlier appeared alongside Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Apple CEO Tim Cook for a House antitrust subcommittee hearing in July, which dug into complaints that their companies’ business practices have stifled competitors and harmed consumers.
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