WASHINGTON – The House Select Committee to investigate the January 6, 2021 Capitol attack has summoned four social media companies that have so far provided what the committee described as an “inadequate response” to requests for information and records related to the spread of misinformation and efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
Subpoenas have been issued for two giants in the industry: Alphabet, formerly known as Google; Facebook’s parent company is dead; Twitter; Reddit.
“We cannot allow our work to be delayed any longer,” committee chair Representative Penny Thompson, a Democrat, said in a statement. “Two key questions for the Select Committee are how the spread of disinformation and violent extremism has contributed to the violent attack on our democracy, and what steps – if any – have social media companies taken to prevent their platforms from being fertile ground for the radicalization of violence.”
Despite months of engagement, Thompson said, “we still don’t have the documentation and information needed to answer those basic questions.”
YouTube, Twitter, Meta and Reddit spokesmen did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In a letter sent this week to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Thompson cited reports that Facebook had disbanded a Civil Integrity team that had been focusing on election disinformation “and reduced the implementation of tools used to curb the spread of violent content. However, despite requests Repeated and specific to obtain documents relating to these matters, the Selecting Committee has not yet received these materials.”
A letter to Alphabet requested specific information regarding YouTube, a platform it described as providing “important communications by its users related to the planning and execution of the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol.”
The letter indicated that Stephen Bannon had broadcast the podcast on YouTube in the days before and after January 6, 2021, and images of the Capitol Rebellion were broadcast live on YouTube.
“The select committee believes that Alphabet has significant undisclosed information necessary to its investigation, regarding how Alphabet developed, implemented, and reviewed content, algorithmic promotion, demonization, and other policies that may have influenced the events of January 6, 2021,” the letter said. .
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Twitter was similarly reprimanded in a message accompanying the subpoena. Thompson wrote that “Twitter failed to disclose important information…For example, Twitter failed to provide significant documentation regarding the warnings it received regarding the use of the platform to plot or incite violence on January 6th.”
Similar complaints were made in a letter to Reddit’s CEO, host of “r/The – Donald,” who grew big on Reddit before moving to a separate website in 2020. Thompson’s letter stated that this site “ultimately hosted discussion and planning Hamin related to the January 6 attack” and criticized the company for not responding to previously requested information.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, D-Calif., on Thursday continued to challenge the committee, claiming Thursday that there was no information he could give the committee about what then-President Donald Trump did that day to stop the attack, despite the two men speaking. secretly.
In a controversial press conference, McCarthy repeatedly evaded questions about whether he would challenge a subpoena from the commission, accusing the investigation of being “purely political.” Committee leaders said Thursday they were considering a subpoena for McCarthy after he declined a request to voluntarily provide information about his communications with Trump and then White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows during and after the attack.
The committee is specifically interested in a conference call on January 11, 2021, between McCarthy and House Republicans. The Republican Party leader reportedly said during the call that Trump, in previous bilateral talks, had admitted “a measure of responsibility” for the storming of the Capitol by a crowd of his supporters.
At about that time, the two discussed the consequences the former president might face after the rebellion.
[DOCUMENT: Read the letters to the chiefs of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Reddit » arkansasonline.com/114techceos/]
The committee is also interested in a call McCarthy had with Trump on Jan. 6 when the riots broke out. On Thursday, McCarthy sidestepped questions about the January 11, 2021 call.
Instead, McCarthy briefly referred to the separate call he had with Trump on January 6, which he said he had spoken about publicly. He said he had no new information to present to the committee on the matter.
“My conversation was very short, advising the president of what was going on here,” McCarthy said Thursday.
McCarthy reportedly had that tense call with Trump as the riots erupted. During the call, Trump initially repeated the lie that Antifa had violated the Capitol, according to Representative Jaime Herrera Butler, a Republican from Washington state, who said McCarthy told her about the call after it happened.
According to Herrera Butler, after McCarthy told Trump that his supporters had stormed the Capitol, Trump replied, “Well, Kevin, I think these people are more upset about the election than you are.”
McCarthy also doubled down Thursday on his belief that the Jan. 6 committee is leading a partisan investigation aimed at harming Republicans under House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Asked about McCarthy’s defiance of the Jan. 6 commission’s requests, Pelosi said Thursday that McCarthy “has an obligation” to cooperate with the investigation. When asked if the committee was justified in using subpoena powers against McCarthy, Pelosi deferred suspension to the committee leadership and said she had “no intention” of interfering with the committee’s work.
“It’s up to the committee as to what it does next,” Pelosi said. “They know the way to go. I submit to their judgment.”
She emphasized that the commission had said several times that it would use all tools at its disposal to investigate the attack, including subpoena powers.
“I trust the bipartisan nature of the committee,” Pelosi added. “They work very hard, as we see in the public domain [and] the product of their labour.
Thompson and the committee’s deputy chair, Representative Liz Cheney, R-Wyo, said they are considering a subpoena not only for McCarthy but also for other Republican lawmakers such as Rep. Jim Jordan and Scott Perry — an option that complicates the legal and practical issues already under discussion.
In a letter to McCarthy on Wednesday, Thompson cited the GOP leader’s conversation with Trump on or about January 11, 2021.
Thompson wrote that McCarthy “may also have discussed with President Trump the possibility of him facing a resolution of impeachment, impeachment, or removal under the Twenty-fifth Amendment.” “It also appears that you may have identified other potential options, including President Trump’s immediate resignation from office.”
McCarthy, responding to Thompson on Wednesday, criticized the commission for wanting to “interview me about public statements shared with the world, and private conversations not remotely related to the violence that erupted in the Capitol. I have nothing else to add.”
Information for this article was contributed by Tom Hamburger, Gerrit de Fink, Mariana Alfaro and Amy B. Wang of The Washington Post.