Social media giants called in to testify over role in Capitol attack

Washington DC - The US House of Representatives committee investigating the January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol on Thursday subpoenaed records from four social media companies.

The subpoenas could provide detail on the role of social media in the January 6 Capitol riot.
The subpoenas could provide detail on the role of social media in the January 6 Capitol riot.  © Collage: IMAGO / Xinhua, Panthermedia

Chairman Bennie Thompson said in a statement the committee was demanding records from Alphabet, Meta, Reddit and Twitter relating to the spread of misinformation, efforts to overturn the 2020 election, domestic violent extremism, and foreign influence in the 2020 election.

"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," Thompson said.

"It’s disappointing that after months of engagement, we still do not have the documents and information necessary to answer those basic questions."

Alphabet's YouTube was a platform for "significant communications by its users that were relevant to the planning and execution" of the attack, the statement said.

Meta platforms were used to "share messages of hatred, violence and incitement," and to spread misinformation, disinformation and conspiracy theories around the election.

Reddit and Twitter also hosted discussions about the planning and execution of the attack, according to the subpoenas.

"Twitter was reportedly warned about potential violence being planned on the site in advance of January 6th," the statement said.

The committee first asked for the records from 15 social media companies in August last year.

"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," Thompson said.

Cover photo: Collage: IMAGO / Xinhua, Panthermedia

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