The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol subpoenaed four major tech companies on Thursday in an effort to obtain records about the spread of misinformation and other concerning communications on their platforms.
The committee is demanding records from Alphabet, the parent company of Google and YouTube; Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram; Reddit; and Twitter ― all of which have provided “inadequate responses to prior requests for information,” the committee said in a statement.
“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 Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said Thursday. “It’s disappointing that after months of engagement, we still do not have the documents and information necessary to answer those basic questions.”
YouTube, the committee said, served as a “platform for significant communications by its users that were relevant to the planning and execution” of the Jan. 6 attack.
A spokesperson for Google told HuffPost that it has been “actively cooperating” with the committee since its start and has been “responding substantively to their requests for documents.”
“We have strict policies prohibiting content that incites violence or undermines trust in elections across YouTube and Google’s products,” the spokesperson said, “and we enforced these policies in the run-up to January 6 and continue to do so today.”
Meta’s Facebook and other platforms, the committee continued, 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.”
In response to the subpoena, a Meta spokesperson told HuffPost: “As Chairman Thompson said recently, ‘Facebook is working with [the committee] to provide the necessary information we requested.’ Since then, Meta has produced documents to the committee on a schedule committee staff requested ― and we will continue to do so.”
Reddit’s now-defunct “r/The_Donald” subreddit board fostered a community that eventually migrated to its own website, TheDonald.win, where users discussed and planned the attack, the committee stated.
A spokesperson for Reddit told HuffPost: “We received the subpoena and will continue to work with the committee on their requests.”
Twitter users, the committee said, communicated on the platform to plan and strategize about the attack. The platform also let users, including former President Donald Trump, write public messages “amplifying allegations of election fraud.” The committee’s letter to Twitter also cited comments from Prince Harry, who said he warned the company’s founder and then-CEO Jack Dorsey that Twitter was fueling something dangerous.
“Jack and I were emailing each other prior to Jan. 6 where I warned him that his platform was allowing a coup to be staged,” Harry said at the RE:WIRED tech forum in November. “That email was sent the day before, and then [the attack] happened, and I haven’t heard from him since.”
A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment.