Months after the House committee investigating the U.S. Capitol riot requested documents from more than a dozen social platforms, it has issued subpoenas against Twitter, Meta, Reddit and YouTube after lawmakers said the companies were initially responding are insufficient.
The committee’s chairman, Rep. Bennie Thompson, on Thursday demanded the companies keep records of their role in allegedly spreading misinformation about the 2020 election and promoting domestic violent extremism on their platforms in the run-up to the Jan. 6, 2021 riot .
“Two key questions for the select committee are how the spread of misinformation and violent extremism has contributed to the violent assault on our democracy, and what steps, if any, social media companies have taken to prevent their platforms from becoming hotbeds for the radicalization of people to violence,” Thompson, D-Miss, said in the letter.
Thompson added it was “disappointing that after months of commitment,” the four companies have not voluntarily turned over the necessary information and documents that would help lawmakers answer the questions at the heart of their investigation.
In his letter, Thompson outlined how the companies were involved in the deadly insurgency committed by Donald Trump supporters and far-right groups.
Alphabet-owned YouTube was the platform that hosted a significant portion of the communications “relevant to the planning and execution” of the Capitol Siege, “including live streams of the attack as it occurred,” the statement said To write.
In a statement to the Associated Press, a YouTube spokesman said it was “actively working” with the committee and working to stop content that incites violence or undermines confidence in elections.
“We enforced these policies leading up to January 6 and we continue to do so today,” the spokesman wrote.
The committee also outlined how Meta, formerly known as Facebook, was reportedly used to exchange hateful, violent and inflammatory messages between users and to spread misinformation that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent in order to promote the “stop the steal” movement coordinate .
In response, Meta said she, too, is working with the committee to provide lawmakers with the information they have requested.
On Reddit, the r/The_Donald “subreddit” community grew significantly, the letter said, before migrating members to an official website where, investigators say, discussions about planning the attack took place. A Reddit spokesperson said Thursday that the company received the subpoena and “will continue to work with the committee on their requests.”
The letter went on to detail how the attack warned Twitter of the potential violence planned on its platform and how its users were involved in “communications reinforcing allegations of voter fraud, including from the former president himself.”
A December 19, 2020 Trump specific tweet highlighted, “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 election,” as he urged his supporters to come to Washington to attend a “wild” protest on January 6, 2021.
A spokesman for Twitter declined to comment on the subpoenas.
The committee made its first request for documents from 15 social media companies in August, including TikTok, Parler, Telegram, 4chan and 8kun.
The subpoenas come as the nine-member committee continues its wide-ranging investigation into how a mob infiltrated the Capitol and disrupted confirmation of Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential victory in what was the most severe attack on Congress in two centuries.
The committee of seven Democrats and two Republicans has interviewed more than 340 people and issued dozens of subpoenas to people in Trump’s inner circle, including his former chief of staff, as well as inquiries to their own House colleagues.
On Wednesday, the committee requested an interview with House Minority Chairman Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
McCarthy, along with GOP Representatives Jim Jordan of Ohio and Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, have denied the committee’s request to meet for interviews or to turn over hundreds of documents related to their January 6, 2021 conversations with Trump or those associated with him His supporters beat the police, stormed the building and disrupted the certification of the 2020 election.
Check out the latest from the Consumer Electronics Show on Gadgets 360 in our CES 2022 hub.