The House select committee investigating the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot has subpoenaed the parent companies of Google and Facebook as well as social media giants Twitter Inc. and Reddit, the panel’s chairman said Thursday.
“Two key 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 took to prevent their platforms from being breeding grounds for radicalizing people to violence,” committee chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said in a press release.
Last summer, the select committee demanded a trove of records from Google parent Alphabet Inc. GOOGL, -2.01% GOOG, -1.78%, Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. FB, -2.03%, Twitter TWTR, -3.85%, Reddit and other social media companies but received “inadequate responses” from the largest platforms, according to committee’s release Thursday.
The Jan. 6 committee is seeking records tied to domestic terrorism, the spread of misinformation and efforts to influence or overturn the 2020 election.
“We cannot allow our work to be delayed any longer,” Thompson said in a statement. He added that despite months of engagement, “we still not have the documents and information necessary to answer those basic questions.”
Thompson cited letters sent this week to each company, seeking specific information. Meta Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg was asked about reports that the company disbanded a Civic Integrity Team that was to focus on election misinformation “and reduced the application of tools used to restrain the spread of violent content.”
Alphabet was queried about YouTube, which live-streamed Stephen K. Bannon’s podcast in the days before and after Jan. 6, 2021, and beamed images of the Capitol insurrection live.
“The Select Committee believes Alphabet has significant undisclosed information that is critical to its investigation, concerning how Alphabet developed, implemented, and reviewed its content moderation, algorithmic promotion, demonetization, and other policies that may have affected the January 6, 2021 events,” the letter to Alphabet said. [Twitter was similarly admonished.]
In a letter to Reddit, Thompson said, the site “ultimately hosted significant discussion and planning related to the January 6th attack.”
Twitter declined comment.
Representatives from Alphabet, Meta and Reddit were not immediately available for comment.