Jan 6 Committee Subpoenas Tech Giants

Jan 6 select committee on Thursday subpoenaed Alphabet, Meta, Reddit, and Twitter for records as part of its investigation of the Capitol riots.

QUICK FACTS:
  • The panel says the four social media companies have key information related to the spread of “misinformation” involving efforts to overturn the 2020 election and domestic violent extremism, Axios reports.
  • “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,” the panel’s chair, Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson (D), said in a statement.
  • “It’s disappointing that after months of engagement, we still do not have the documents and information necessary to answer those basic questions,” Thompson added.
  • The subpoena comes after “inadequate responses” to prior requests for information, the committee said.
  • House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has warned big tech platforms who go along with the Jan 6 committee’s requests would be in “violation of federal law and subject to losing their ability to operate in the United States” (see more below).
WHAT THE PANEL SAID ABOUT THE BIG TECH PLATFORMS:
  • The committee said that Alphabet’s YouTube served as a platform for communicating plans of the Jan 6 unrest, including livestreams as it took place, notes Axios.
  • The committee also said Meta’s social media platforms, mostly Facebook, were reportedly used to spread “conspiracy theories” about election fraud and coordinate the Stop the Steal movement.
  • A Reddit community named “r/The_Donald” grew in popularity before moving in 2020 to the website TheDonald.win, which hosted “significant discussion and planning” for the unrest, the committee alleged.
  • Twitter was also used to communicate plans and amplify allegations of election fraud, the panel noted, “including by the former President himself,” it said.
BACKGROUND:
  • The companies have until Jan 27 to comply, notes Politico.
  • The political left-wing criticize Google, which owns YouTube, and Facebook owner Meta for not censuring online content enough.
  • Last year, Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA) warned Big Tech against cooperating with the Jan 6 committee, saying, “Republicans will not forget.”
  • McCarthy called out Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MISS) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for what he called “attempts to strong-arm private companies to turn over individuals’ private data,” Politico reported elsewhere, as he asserted that such a forfeiture of information would “put every American with a phone or computer in the crosshairs of a surveillance state run by Democrat politicians.”
  • “If these companies comply with the Democrat order to turn over private information, they are in violation of federal law and subject to losing their ability to operate in the United States,” McCarthy went on to say. “If companies still choose to violate federal law, a Republican majority will not forget and will stand with Americans to hold them fully accountable under the law.”