WASHINGTON – The House Committee is investigating the January 6th attack on the Capitol issued subpoenas on Thursday to four major social media companies – Alphabet, Meta, Reddit and Twitter – criticizing them for allowing extremism to spread on their platforms, saying they failed to adequately address the issue Cooperate investigation.
In letters accompanying the subpoenas, the panel named Facebook, a unit of Meta, and YouTube, owned by Alphabet’s Google subsidiary, as the worst culprits in the spread of misinformation and violent extremism. The committee said it had examined how companies “contributed to the violent attack on our democracy and what steps, if any, social media companies have taken to keep their platforms from becoming breeding grounds for radicalization Become violence “.
“It is disappointing that after months of engagement we still do not have the necessary documents and information to answer these fundamental questions,” said panel chairman Bennie Thompson, Democrat from Mississippi.
The committee sent letters in August to 15 social media outlets – including sites that have spread misinformation about election fraud such as the pro-Trump website TheDonald.win – who hold documents on election cancellation efforts and all domestic violent extremists related to the Request rally and attack on January 6th.
After months of talks with the companies, only the four major corporations were issued subpoenas on Thursday because, according to the committee, the companies were “not prepared to voluntarily and quickly undertake to work together”. A committee official said the investigators were at various stages of negotiations with the other companies.
In the year since the events of January 6, social media companies were vetted to determine whether their websites played a significant role in organizing the attack.
In the months around the 2020 elections, Meta employees issued warning signs that Facebook posts and comments with “inflammable misinformation about the election” were quickly spreading on the social network, according to a Cache of documents and photos verified by the New York Times. Many of these employees criticized the inaction of the Facebook leadership when it came to spreading the QAnon conspiracy group, which they believed had also contributed to the attack.
Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee-turned-whistleblower, said the company relaxed its security too quickly after the election, which then led to its being used in the storming of the Capitol.
Critics say other platforms also played a significant role in spreading misinformation while contributing to the January 6th events.
In the days following the attack, Reddit a discussion forum is prohibited Dedicated to former President Donald J. Trump, where tens of thousands of Trump supporters regularly gathered to express their solidarity with him.
On Twitter, many of Mr. Trump’s supporters used the website to reinforce and spread false allegations of election fraud while connecting with fellow Trump supporters and conspiracy theorists through the website. And on YouTube, some users are broadcasting the January 6 events using the platform’s video streaming technology.
Tech company representatives have held discussions with the investigative committee, but it is unclear how much evidence or user records the companies provided.
The committee said that letters to the four companies accompanied the subpoenas.
The panel said YouTube served as the platform for “significant communications from its users that were relevant to the planning and execution of the January 6th attack on the United States Capitol,” including livestreams of the attack during the attack.
“YouTube continues to be a platform for user videos to spread misinformation about the election,” Thompson wrote.
The panel said Facebook and other meta Platforms were used to convey messages of “hatred, violence and incitement; to spread misinformation, disinformation and conspiracy theories around the election; and coordinate or try to coordinate the stop-the-steal movement. “
Public accounts through Facebook’s Civil Integrity team indicate that Facebook has documents that are critical to the special committee’s investigation, the panel said.
“Meta has declined to set a deadline for producing or even identifying these materials,” Thompson wrote to Mark Zuckerberg, Meta’s CEO.
Key figures from the January 6 inquiry
The panel said it was focused on Reddit because the platform hosted the r / The_Donald subreddit community, which had grown significantly prior to the 2020 migration to TheDonald.win website, which ultimately was where significant discussions and planning related to the January 6th attack took place.
Investigator said twitter Subscribers used the platform to plan and conduct the attack on the Capitol, and Twitter was reportedly warned of potential violence on the site. Twitter users also participated in communications reinforcing allegations of election fraud, including those made by Mr Trump.
“Unfortunately, the special committee believes that Twitter has not disclosed critical information,” said the panel.
In the past few years, Big Tech and Washington have hit each other’s heads. Some Republicans have accused sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter of silencing conservative voices.
The Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether a number of tech companies have grown too big, using their market power to stifle competition. And a bipartisan group of senators and officials continues to say that sites like Facebook and YouTube are not doing enough to curb the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories.
Google said in a statement that it worked with the committee and that the company had “strict policies on banning content that incites violence or undermines confidence in elections,” which it enforced before and after January 6 .
Meta said it “submitted documents to the committee on a schedule requested by the committee’s staff – and we will continue to do so”.
A Twitter spokeswoman declined to comment.
A Reddit spokeswoman said the company had received the subpoena and would “continue to work with the committee on their applications.”
The panel interviewed more than 340 witnesses and issued dozen of subpoenas, including for bank and telephone records.