Jan. 6 Committee Accuses Social Media Firms Of Dragging Feet On Cooperation With Committee

The panel initially requested information from the companies in August 2021.
WASHINGTON D.C., USA - JANUARY 6: US President Donald Trumps supporters gather outside the Capitol building in Washington D.C., United States on January 06, 2021. Pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol as lawmakers... WASHINGTON D.C., USA - JANUARY 6: US President Donald Trumps supporters gather outside the Capitol building in Washington D.C., United States on January 06, 2021. Pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol as lawmakers were set to sign off Wednesday on President-elect Joe Biden's electoral victory in what was supposed to be a routine process headed to Inauguration Day. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images) MORE LESS

Four of the country’s major social media firms are slow-walking information requests from the Jan. 6 Committee, the panel said on Thursday in a series of subpoenas to the firms.

The panel issued subpoenas to Alphabet, YouTube and Google’s parent company, Meta, Facebook’s corporate parent, and Twitter and Reddit.

The subpoenas say that each of the firms has delayed cooperating with the investigation in different ways. The Jan. 6 Committee sent a wave of requests to the companies in August 2021 asking for information regarding the attack on the Capitol.

Soon after, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) directed the firms not to comply, saying that a Republican majority would “not forget.” The panel asked McCarthy for help in the investigation on Wednesday, a request that he swiftly denied.

The Meta subpoena, addressed to Mark Zuckerberg, says that the company has failed to “commit to a deadline for producing or even identifying” requested materials, despite letters sent in August, September, and October.

“Meta has failed to provide critical internal and external analyses conducted by the company regarding misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation relating to the 2020 election, efforts to challenge or overturn the election, and the use of Meta by domestic violent extremists to affect the 2020 election,” the subpoena reads.

For Alphabet, the panel says that the company has provided some information related to its request, but that there are significant gaps.

Among others, the subpoena says, that includes records that “fully explain non-public moderation discussions and policies that led to President Trump’s suspension or that explain whether or why the platform did or did not act regarding President Trump’s account in advance of January 6th.”

“It’s disappointing that after months of engagement, we still do not have the documents and information necessary to answer those basic questions,” panel chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) said in a statement.

Like Facebook, the panel says, Twitter has refused to commit to any timeline for handing over documents. Reddit “has refused to produce internal documents” that corroborate its public statements to the effect that the platform had no role related to Jan. 6.

For Twitter, the panel seems largely interested in how the network was used to put a megaphone to false allegations of voter fraud, and in the company’s decision-making around banning Trump.

To date, however, the firm seems to have stonewalled the committee.

“Finally, Twitter has failed to produce any documents that fully explain either its decision to suspend President Trump’s account on January 8, 2021, or any other decisions the company made regarding President Trump’s account relating to the events of January 6th,” the subpoena reads.

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