January 6th committee subpoenas records from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Reddit
By SEAMLESS DAILY
14 January 2022
The House select committee investigating the 6 January insurrection has issued subpoenas to Twitter, Reddit, and the parent companies of YouTube and Facebook for information "relating to the spread of misinformation, efforts to overturn the 2020 election, domestic violent extremism, and foreign influence in the 2020 election" after the companies spurned prior voluntary requests.
In a statement, select committee chairman Bennie Thompson said the panel of seven Democrats and two Republicans is looking for information to answer two "key questions" of “ how the spread of misinformation and violent extremism contributed to the violent attack on our democracy ” and “ what steps — if any — social media companies took to prevent their platforms from being breeding grounds for radicalizing people to violence ”.
He added that it's "disappointing that after months of engagement," the companies have not voluntarily turned over the necessary information and documents that would help lawmakers answer the questions at the heart of their investigation.
"we can not allow our important work to be delayed any further ”.
The House select committee investigating the Capitol attack subpoenaed Twitter, Meta, Alphabet and Reddit on Thursday for records related to the 6 January insurrection, as it seeks to review data that could potentially incriminate the Trump White House.
Facebook is part of Meta and Google is part of Alphabet.
Congressman Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the select committee, said in a statement that he authorized the four subpoenas since those platforms were used to communicate plans about the Capitol attack, and yet the social media companies ignored earlier requests.
Thompson said in the subpoena letter to Twitter that the select committee was interested in obtaining key documents House investigators suspect the company is withholding that could shed light on how users used the platform to plan and execute the Capitol attack.
But, the letter says, the select committee believes Twitter has failed to turn over critical information requested by House investigators and even failed to commit to a timeline for complying with the panel's requests issued in August.
On Reddit, the "r" 'subreddit' community grew significantly, the letter said, before members migrated to an official website where investigators believe discussions around the planning of the attack were hosted.
lawmakers were also seeking materials from alphabet, the parent company of youtube, because the video platform hosted significant communications by key roles in the capitol attack, including trump's former chief strategist steve bannon and rioters livestreaming their movements on january 6.
In a letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Thompson said that "despite repeated and specific requests for documents" related to Facebook's practices on election misinformation and violent content, the committee had still not received these materials.
The Guardian first reported that month that the select committee, among other individuals, had requested the telecom and social media firms preserve the records of the former Trump White House chief of staff Mark Meadows in addition to a dozen House Republicans.
A spokesperson for Twitter and Meta did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In his letter, Thompson outlined the way the companies were complicit in the deadly insurrection perpetuated by pro-Trump supporters and far-right groups.
The committee stated how Meta, formerly known as Facebook, was reportedly used to exchange hateful, violent and inciting messages between users as well as spread misinformation that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent in an attempt to coordinate the "Stop the Steal" movement.
In letters sent this week the tech firms, Thompson lamented their lack of response.
Similarly, Reddit has been requested to provide information on its community r, which was used to plan the January 6 action before it was banned weeks later on 27 January.
"Forcing companies to hand over private messages of its users could have major privacy implications," Greer said.
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