The House Select Committee has issued subpoenas to Google parent Alphabet, Twitter, Meta (formerly Facebook), and Reddit regarding the January 6th attack on the US Capitol last year. The Committee said the four companies didn’t provide adequate responses to prior requests for information. The team investigating the attack is demanding information relating to “the spread of misinformation, efforts to overturn the 2020 election, domestic violent extremism, and foreign influence in the 2020 election” from them.
“It’s disappointing that after months of engagement, we still do not have the documents and information necessary to answer those basic questions. The Select Committee is working to get answers for the American people and help ensure nothing like January 6th ever happens again. We cannot allow our important work to be delayed any further,” Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson said in a statement Thursday. The attack took place days before the transfer of power from outgoing President Donald Trump to current President Joe Biden.
Google, Facebook, and others subpoenaed in probe of the January 6th Capitol attack
According to the Committee, Alphabet’s YouTube facilitated communications between the people that violently stormed the US Capitol building. This allowed for the planning and execution of the attack. The platform also allowed the attackers to livestream the attack.
Twitter also provided the attackers with a platform for communications around the planning and execution of the attack. The company was reportedly warned about this much before the attack took place. But it seemingly didn’t take any major step to try and stop those communications. Additionally, the Committee is also holding Twitter liable for amplifying allegations of election fraud.
Likewise, Meta’s social media platform Facebook was a breeding ground for hatred, violence, incitement, misinformation, disinformation, and conspiracy theories around the election. People also used the platform to “coordinate or attempt to coordinate the Stop the Steal movement.”
Lastly, the House Select Committee alleges that the “r/The_Donald” subreddit on Reddit allowed the supporters of the former President to come together, and later move to the TheDonald.win website where they planned the attack.
The Committee believes that these companies have more critical information to share regarding the attack. But a lack of cooperation from them has forced Congress to issue subpoenas to them. The companies have until January 27th, 2022 to respond.
Google & Facebook say they are cooperating
In a statement to Engadget, a Google spokesperson said the company is “committed to working with Congress through this process”. The company has “strict policies prohibiting content that incites violence or undermines trust in elections across YouTube and Google’s products,” the spokesperson added. “We enforced these policies in the run-up to January 6 and continue to do so today.”
Facebook also stated that it is working with the investigating committee to provide the necessary information. A Meta spokesperson added that the company “has produced documents to the committee on a schedule committee staff requested – and we will continue to do so.”
Twitter reportedly declined to comment on the subpoena. Reddit, meanwhile, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. It will be interesting to see how things evolve from here. We will keep you posted.