Congress sent subpoenas demands information from Meta (formerly Facebook), Twitter, Reddit and Alphabet about the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol. The House of Representatives Select Committee investigating the attack wants each company to disclose details of its moderation policy and other information that could clarify how participants organized their efforts or spread conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election.
The committee voluntarily requested data from dozens of companies last year, but the response from the above four has so far been ‘inadequate’. “Two key questions for the Select Committee are how the spread of misinformation and violent extremism has contributed to the violent attack on our democracy, and what steps – if any – social media companies have taken to prevent their platforms from becoming breeding grounds for radicalization of people to violence. It is disappointing that after months of commitment, we still do not have the documents and information needed to answer those fundamental questions,” said committee chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) in a statement.
Alphabet’s subpoena letter asks for information about YouTube, which hosted live streams of the attack but also suspended former President Donald Trump for inciting violence during the attack. It claims Alphabet has “key undisclosed information” about how it developed and revised its moderation and demonetization rules, as well as details about how it has developed policies around false election claims.
Twitter’s letter says the company has not released details about warnings it has received about extremists organizing on its platform or “internal company analysis of misinformation, misinformation and bad information” related to the election. It should also provide more information about its decision to suspend Trump’s account on January 8. Twitter declined to comment on the subpoena.
meta hears draft documents on its decision to disband a team engaged in electoral misinformation, as well as “critical internal and external analyzes conducted by the company regarding misinformation, disinformation and misinformation related to the election of 2020, attempts to contest or reverse the election, and the use of Meta by domestic violent extremists to influence the 2020 election.”
Reddit, which has by far the smallest of the platforms involved, has been asked to commit to a “thorough review of its data” that could reveal details as to whether it played a role in the attack. “We have received the subpoena and will continue to work with the committee on their requests,” Reddit said in a statement sent to The edge by Sandra Chu.