The House Select Committee investigating the January 6 insurrection at the United States Capitol has sent subpoenas to Alphabet, Meta, Reddit and Twitter for information from their social media platforms.
The committee is requesting that the four social media companies produce records related to the riots by Jan. 27, citing “inadequate responses” to prior requests for information regarding “the spread of misinformation, efforts to overturn the 2020 election, domestic violent extremism and foreign influence in the 2020 election.”
“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,” Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said. “It’s disappointing that after months of engagement, we still do not have the documents and information necessary to answer those basic questions.”
The committee said that Alphabet’s YouTube platform was used for “significant communications” relevant to the planning and execution of the Jan. 6 riots, including live streams of the attack as it took place.
In a letter to Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, Thompson said the company failed to produce documents clarifying its conversations about content moderation and its efforts to remove posts by former President Donald Trump surrounding the riots and his eventual ban from the platform.
Meta’s Facebook and Instagram platforms were also allegedly used to “share messages of hatred, violence and incitement” as well as to spread misinformation about the 2020 presidential election and to coordinate the “Stop the Steal” movement, they added.
Thompson said Meta had not provided documents about Facebook’s decision to disband a Civic Integrity team focused on misinformation and other risks to the elecion prior to the Jan. 6 riots.
Reddit failed to conduct a “thorough review of its records” in response to the committee’s requests, Thompson said.
The committee added that Twitter users communicated about planning and execution of the storming of the Capitol on the platform, as well as amplifying allegations of election fraud, including claims by Trump. It also noted that Twitter had allegedly been warned about potential violence being planned on the site ahead of the riots.