Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Twitter, Meta among social media giants subpoenaed by commission Jan. 6

WASHINGTON (AP) — Months after requesting documents from more than a dozen social platforms, a House committee investigating the Capitol uprising has issued subpoenas against Twitter, Meta, Reddit and YouTube after lawmakers said the companies’ initial responses were inadequate.

Committee chairman Rep. Benny Thompson on Thursday demanded reports from companies regarding their role in allegedly spreading disinformation about the 2020 election and promoting violent extremism on their platforms in the run-up to the January 6, 2021 uprising.

“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, social media companies have taken to ensure their platforms do not become a breeding ground for radicalization and violence. ,” Thompson, Mississippi, said in a letter.

He added that it was “disappointing that after months of cooperation” the companies did not voluntarily provide the necessary information and documents to help lawmakers answer the questions underlying their investigation.

In his letter, Thompson described how the companies were complicit in a deadly uprising perpetuated by Trump supporters and far-right groups.

YouTube, owned by Alphabet, was the platform that hosted a significant number of messages “related to the planning and execution” of the Capitol siege, “including live broadcasts of the attack during its execution,” the letter said.

The committee said that Meta, formerly known as Facebook, was reportedly used to exchange hateful, violent, and inflammatory messages between users, as well as to spread disinformation that the 2020 presidential election was rigged, in an attempt to coordinate the “Stop theft” movement. .

The letter said that on Reddit, the “r/The_Donald” “subreddit” community had grown significantly before its members moved to the official website, where investigators believed there were discussions about planning the attack.

The letter described how Twitter was alerted to potential violence planned on its platform prior to the attack, and how its users engaged in “communications that escalate allegations of election fraud, including from the former president himself.”

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