The House committee investigating Jan. 6 subpoenaed Reddit, Twitter and the parent companies of Google and Facebook on Thursday after their “inadequate responses” to requests for information about what the companies did and didn’t do in the lead-up to the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol.
“It’s disappointing that after months of engagement, we still do not have the documents and information necessary to answer those basic questions,” Committee chair Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said in a statement. “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.”
A letter to Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg said parent company Meta failed to turn over information about its decision to disband its civic integrity team “that focused on risks to elections including misinformation.”
“Additionally, 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 committee’s letter said.
The panel also sent a letter to Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google and YouTube parent company Alphabet, saying, “The Select Committee believes Alphabet has significant undisclosed information that is critical to its investigation, concerning how Alphabet developed, implemented, and reviewed its content moderation, algorithmic promotion, demonetization, and other policies that may have affected the January 6, 2021 events.”
“To this day, YouTube is a platform on which user video spread misinformation about the election,” the committee added.
The letter to Reddit CEO Steven Huffman sought more information about “subreddits” involving former President Donald Trump, and the letter to Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal said the company has failed to turn over warnings it received about violent threats, and documentation about its decision to suspend Trump’s account.
Twitter declined to comment.
A Reddit spokesperson told NBC News, “We received the subpoena and will continue to work with the committee on their requests.”
The other two companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The panel first sought records from the four companies and others in August, asking for information related to “the spread of misinformation, efforts to overturn the 2020 election or prevent the certification of the results, domestic violent extremism, and foreign influence in the 2020 election.”
The panel also sought details on policy changes that the social media companies adopted “or failed to adopt” regarding the spread of violent extremism, misinformation and foreign malign influence. That included “decisions on banning material from platforms and contacts with law enforcement and other government entities,” the panel said in an August news release.
The committee is seeking information dating back to the spring of 2020.
A review of various social media by NBC News ahead of Jan. 6 showed hundreds of posts discussing plans to move on the Capitol, including a map of the building and talk of how to create a stampede that would overwhelm Capitol Police.
FBI officials have acknowledged that there were calls for violence at the Jan. 6 “Stop the Steal” rally by Trump supporters, held just prior to the Capitol attack, but have said they did not add up to specific, credible intelligence.
Testifying before a Senate committee in March, FBI Director Christopher Wray suggested the amount of vitriol online makes it difficult to sort out.
“The amount of angry, hateful, unspeakable, combative, violent even, rhetoric on social media exceeds what anybody in their worst imagination [thinks] is out there,” he told the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Ezra Kaplan contributed.