The House committee leading the investigation into the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6 today sent subpoenas to Meta Platforms Inc., Google LLC, Twitter Inc., and Reddit Inc.
Congressman Bennie G. Thompson, who is chairman of the committee, said the four companies involved had been contacted before but nothing had come of that. He added that sending the four subpoenas should now ensure that the committee gets its answers. Each company has been asked to provide documents to assess just what role they played in fomenting the chaos at the Capitol and how they were used to execute the event.
“Two key questions for the Select Committee are 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,” said Thompson.
Each company is accused of doing its bit. YouTube-owned Google was said to have live-streamed the event and also served as a platform where the “planning and execution” took place. Meta is accused of being a conduit where “hatred, violence, and incitement” and the” spread of “disinformation” and “conspiracy theories” provoked the rioters.
Twitter is accused of being used to plan and execute the event, and also of being a hive of anger where people vented about what they considered election fraud. The committee says that the “r/The_Donald” subreddit was home to people talking about planning the attack. In each letter sent to the companies, the committee talks about these accusations and the failures so far in how the companies have responded to the matter.
“Meta has failed to provide critical internal and external analyses conducted by the company regarding misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation relating to the 2020 election, efforts to challenge or overturn the election, and the use of Meta by domestic violent extremists to affect the 2020 election,” the committee said to Meta.
The missive issued to Google was similar, stating, “The Select Committee believes Alphabet has significant undisclosed information that is critical to its investigation, concerning how Alphabet developed, implemented, and reviewed its content moderation, algorithmic promotion, demonetization, and other policies that may have affected the January 6, 2021 events.”
So far, Twitter has declined to comment on the matter while Reddit merely acknowledged it had received the subpoena. Google said it has already been cooperating with the panel and has been “responding substantively” to requests, while Meta said it has “produced documents” for the committee and will “continue to do so”.
Photo: Tyler Merbler/Flickr
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