The subpoenas were issued to four major technology corporations by the House committee in charge of the inquiry of the January 6, 2021 revolt at the United States Capitol on Thursday.
On January 6, select committee chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) sent letters to YouTube parent company Alphabet, Facebook and Instagram parent company Meta, Reddit, and Twitter, requesting that those companies provide additional information on how those platforms were used to organize the day’s violent events. The letters were sent to YouTube parent company Alphabet, Facebook and Instagram parent company Meta, Reddit, and Twitter.
According to the committee’s release, each corporation was accused of hosting information relevant to the preparation of the assault on the United States Capitol. Among other things, the committee stated that “meta platforms were reportedly used to share messages of hatred, violence, and incitement; to spread misinformation, disinformation, and conspiracy theories around the election; and to coordinate or attempt to coordinate the Stop the Steal movement.” The committee also stated that Facebook’s since-disbanded Civic Integrity team may have had information relevant to the investigation.
At the time, The social media network Facebook was a significant center of the Stop the Steal campaign because the company failed to prevent the flow of material, disputing the legitimacy of the 2020 United States presidential results election. Facebook had also previously served as their preferred site for organizational coordination for certain extremist and militia-like groups participating in the Capitol assault, such as the Proud Boys and the Three Percenters.
The committee’s complaint with Reddit seems to be centered on r/The Donald, a renowned subreddit banned for hate speech in late January 2020 and then transferred to its domain shortly after. Aside from that, the committee pointed out that YouTube was used to broadcast the events and that Twitter users “reportedly utilized the site for conversations about the preparation and execution of the attack.”
In August of last year, the committee first requested relevant records from 15 different platforms; however, that initial round of letters also included requests for information from extremist-friendly websites such as 8kun, 4chan, Gab, Parler, and the Donald. Win in addition to more traditional social media apps such as Snapchat, Twitch, and TikTok. Since then, the committee has requested information from 20 platforms.
In response to those businesses’ failure to give adequate precise information “despite repeated and explicit requests,” the committee is reconsidering its prior demands from the four key social media platforms, with a deadline of January 27 set for completion of the review.