January 6 Committee Subpoenas Social Media Companies

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Damir Mujezinovic

On January 6, 2021, a violent mob of then-President Donald Trump's supporters stormed the United States Capitol building in an effort to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.

The attempt failed, and Democrat Joe Biden was inaugurated days later, but the attack on the institution shocked the American public, with law enforcement agencies and members of Congress vowing to prosecute those responsible.

But the congressional committee that was established to investigate the matter has faced legal obstacles and struggled to lead its probes.

Tech Giants Subpoenaed

As part of its investigation into the Capitol riots, the January 6 committee has hit the world's largest social media companies with subpoenas, according to a new report from CNN.

Meta (the parent company of Facebook), Alphabet (the parent company to Google and YouTube), Reddit, and Twitter have all been subpoenaed by the panel.

The House committee alleges that the social media giants allowed disinformation to spread on their platforms in the months and days leading up to the attacks on the Capitol.


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Meta Subpoena

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According to the committee, Meta is being subpoenaed because it has failed to respond to requests for information and refused to hand over important documents.

"Despite repeated and specific requests for documents related to these matters, the Select Committee still has not received these materials," Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, who chairs the committee, said in his letter to the company.

"Despite repeated and specific follow-up requests on September 28, 2021, and October 29, 2021, Meta has declined to commit to a deadline for producing or even identifying these materials," he added.

Alphabet Subpoena

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As for Alphabet, the committee claims that the company has "significant undisclosed information" about how it moderated content on its platforms.

Thompson noted that Alphabet has cooperated with the investigation, but that it "has not demonstrated a commitment to voluntarily and expeditiously."

"Additionally, Alphabet has not produced documents relating to YouTube's policy decisions that may have had an impact on the planning, coordinating and execution" of the Capitol attacks, the panel claims.

Thompson also stressed that Meta has yet to explain how it decided to ban Trump's YouTube account.

Role Of Social Media

Members of the January 6 committee have vowed to hold social media companies accountable for not doing more to moderate content on its platforms.

Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland said in a Thursday interview with Anderson Cooper that "there were whistleblowers within all of the major social medias saying a nightmare is about transpire on January 6."

"We want to know exactly what these social media entities did, if anything, to prevent it. Or did they simply take the posture that it wasn't their problem," he added.