The House select committee investigating the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol has ordered several social media firms to hand over data relating to the attack, a significant step toward transparency that could have broader privacy implications.
The committee on Thursday subpoenaed Twitter, Meta, Alphabet and Reddit for private messages exchanged on the platforms about the attack as well as information regarding moderation policies that allowed communities to remain online even as they incited violence in early 2021.
Congressman Bennie Thompson, the chairman of the select committee, said the committee was seeking to answer two key questions: how the spread of misinformation contributed to the violent attack, and what steps social media companies took to prevent their platforms from “being breeding grounds for radicalizing people to violence”.
The subpoenas mark an escalation in the committee’s efforts to get answers from the tech companies. Thompson added in his letter that the subpoenas came after “months of engagement” with the firms and that the four companies had so far ignored requests for information.
“We cannot allow our important work to be delayed any further,” he said.
The panel in August asked 15 tech companies, including the four subpoenaed on Thursday as well as TikTok, Snapchat, Parler and 4chan, for records related to the riot. Read more..