Nancy Pelosi's House Select Committee investigating January 6 is claiming that the response to their initial request for documentation from major social media platforms made back in August 2021 was lackluster, so the panel is doubling down on demanding answers from these companies.
The committee announced on Thursday that it has issued four subpoenas, going to the Google parent company Alphabet, the Facebook parent company Meta, Reddit, and Twitter.
"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," Committee Chair Bennie Thompson said.
"It’s disappointing that after months of engagement, we still do not have the documents and information necessary to answer those basic questions," he continued.
The January 6th Select Committees press release lays out the demands for each company, focusing on how each platform was used to plan the events that occurred that day.
- Alphabet (Google): The focus is on YouTube’s livestreaming capabilities for broadcasts on the day of the Capitol riot. A particular aspect of interest in the committee’s leader is their mention of Steve Bannon, pointing out his ability to broadcast on the platform both before and on the day of the Capitol riot. Bannon has had his own clashes with Congressional officials over their investigation. "Alphabet has not produced any documents that fully explain non-public moderation discussions and policies that led to President Trump’s suspension or that explain whether or why the platform did or did not act regarding President Trump’s account in advance of January 6th."
- Meta (Facebook): While Parler took a lot of the initial backlash for January 6th planning and coordination, it turned out Facebook’s platform was more of a lead contender in the aftermath. The "Stop the Steal" movement being paramount to the House Committee’s concerns. Mention is made of the Civic Integrity team, a position held by employee turned whistleblower Frances Haugen.
- Reddit: the press release highlights the significance of r/The_Donald even though that particular subreddit was banished back in June 2020, long before January 6th, 2021. In the aftermath of the Capitol riot, Reddit went after the next best thing they could, banning r/donaldtrump instead. These facts are mentioned in the actual letter from the panel.
- Twitter: the focal point of the panel’s gripe with Twitter was how the platform had Donald Trump’s main stream of consciousness.
The deadline given to all four companies is January 27th of this month.
In recent days, the committee has sought information from House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy regarding the day, requesting that he answer questions and provide records regarding his involvement before, during, and after the riot that took place at the Capitol just over a year ago.
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