January 6th Committee Subpoenas Alphabet, Meta, Reddit And Twitter Over Records Related To Election Disinformation, Capitol Attack
The House committee investigating the January 6th attack on the Capitol issued subpoenas to four major tech companies, including Alphabet, Meta, Reddit and Twitter, for documents related to the spread of election disinformation on social media and the use of platforms by violent extremists.
Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the committee, said they were examining 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.”
“It’s disappointing that after months of engagement, we still do not have the documents and information necessary to answer those basic questions,” he said.
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At least part of the committee’s inquiry was inspired by the recent testimony of Frances Haugen, a former Facebook executive who has since been a company whistleblower, testifying last year of how the company had fallen short of curbing disinformation. In a letter to Meta’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Thompson cited Haugen’s testimony that Facebook disbanded a Civic Integrity team following the 2020 election and before January 6th.
“However, despite repeated and specific requests for documents related to these matters, the Select Committee still has not received these materials,” Thompson wrote in his letter.
In a letter to Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, Thompson wrote that they were seeking records from Alphabet, parent company of YouTube, on how it “developed, implemented, and reviewed its content moderation, algorithmic promotion, demonetization, and other policies that may have affected the January 6, 2021 events.” Thompson wrote that YouTube was a platform for “significant communications by its users that were relevant to the planning and execution of January 6th attack on the United States Capitol.” He specifically cited Steve Bannon, who live streamed his podcast in the days before and after the riot, as well as livestreams that appeared on the platform as it unfolded.
More to come.
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