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Jan 6th House Select Committee Subpoenas Twitter and Meta, Among Other Tech Giants

Jan 6th House Select Committee Subpoenas Twitter and Meta, Among Other Tech Giants

Nearly six months after requesting documents from more than a dozen social media platforms, the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th Capitol insurrection has issued subpoenas targeting Twitter, Meta (formerly Facebook), Reddit, and YouTube after lawmakers said the companies’ initial responses were “inadequate.”

Committee Chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson(D-MS) demanded records Thursday from the companies relating to their role in allegedly spreading misinformation about the 2020 election and promoting domestic violent extremism on their platforms in the lead-up to the riot on January 6th. The Committee had made its initial request for relevant documents from 15 social media companies in August 2021, which also included TikTok, Parler, Telegram, 4chan, and 8kun.

Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In his letter, Rep. Thompson outlined the way the companies were complicit in the deadly insurrection perpetrated by supporters of Donald Trump and far-right groups. “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  Thompson said in the letter. Thompson added that it’s “disappointing that after months of engagement,” 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.

The committee also outlined how Meta 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.

The letter further detailed how Twitter was warned about the potential violence that was being planned on its platform in advance of the attack and how its users engaged in “communications amplifying allegations of election fraud, including by the former President himself.” One specific tweet from Trump on Dec. 19, 2020, was highlighted: “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election” as he urged followers to come to Washington to engage in a “wild” protest on Jan. 6, 2021. A spokesperson for Twitter declined to comment on the subpoenas.

In a statement to the Associated Press, a YouTube spokesperson said it is “actively cooperating” with the committee and is committed to stopping content that incites violence or undermines faith in elections. ”We enforced these policies in the run-up to Jan. 6 and continue to do so today,” the spokesperson wrote. In response, Meta said it too was working with the committee to get lawmakers the information they requested.

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