Months after requesting documents from more than a dozen social media platforms, the House committee investigating the assault on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 issued subpoenas to Twitter, Meta, Reddit and YouTube on Thursday after lawmakers described the companies’ initial response as inadequate.
The panel’s chairman, Democrat Bennie Thompson, demanded records from the companies related to their involvement in allegedly spreading disinformation about the 2020 election and promoting domestic extremism on their platforms prior to the January 6, 2021 insurrection.
“The two key questions for the Select Commission are how the spread of disinformation 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 used as hotbeds to radicalize people to violence,” Thompson said in his missive.
He added that it is “disappointing that after months of engagement,” the companies have not voluntarily turned over necessary information and documents that would help lawmakers answer the questions that lie at the heart of their investigation.
In his letter, Thompson outlined how the companies were complicit in the insurrection carried out by supporters of then-President Donald Trump and far-right groups.
YouTube, owned by Alphabet, was the platform where a significant amount of communication “relevant to the planning and execution” of the assault on Capitol Hill occurred, “including live streams of the attack as it was occurring,” the letter noted.
The commission highlighted how Meta, formerly known as Facebook, was allegedly used to exchange messages of hate, violence and incitement among its users, as well as to spread disinformation that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent for the purpose of coordinating the “Stop the Robbery” movement.
On Reddit, the “r/The_Donald” community grew significantly, the letter stated, before its members migrated to an official website where investigators believe discussions about the planning of the attack took place.
The letter highlighted how Twitter was warned about potential violence being planned on its platform prior to the attack and how its users engaged in “communications that amplified allegations of voter fraud, including the former president himself.”
Connect with the Voice of America! Subscribe to our YouTube and activate notifications, or follow us on social networks: Facebook, Twitter e Instagram.