January 6 panel targets social media companies

The subpoenas were sent to Facebook’s parent company Meta, Google and YouTube, Twitter and Reddit’s parent company Alphabet.

“Two major 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 have taken to radicalize their platforms by breeding people. Raised to prevent this from becoming grounds for violence,” Democratic Rep. Benny Thompson, who chairs the committee, said in a statement.

“It’s disappointing that even after months of engagement, we don’t have the necessary documentation and information to answer those basic questions,” he continued.

In August, the committee sent requests to 15 social media companies, including those who received the summons on Thursday, trying to understand how misinformation and attempts by foreign and domestic actors on their platforms to reverse elections. were present. The panel’s 14-pronged request asked for a detailed set of documents and information.

“The selection committee requests that you submit to your custody, control or possession the documents described in the attached schedule,” Thompson said in his letter to these companies over the summer.

At the time, the panel specifically asked for data and analysis on domestic violent extremists linked to attempts to reverse the 2020 election, particularly around the January 6 attack, and to provide information in two weeks.

In addition to requesting a paper trail of information, the selection committee in August also asked these social media companies to provide information on how they attempted to address the misinformation on their platforms and where there were holes in doing so. can be.

In the days just after the attack on the US Capitol, major social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter suspended the accounts of influential promoters of election conspiracy theories – including Trump himself. Many in the crowd were white supremacists, QAnon conspiracy theorists and members of right-wing groups such as the Proud Boys.

But the attack has raised many questions as to whether social media companies could have done more to stop the spread of misinformation on their platforms.

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