Jan. 6 Panel Subpoenas Reddit, Twitter and Parent Companies of Google and Facebook

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol issued subpoenas to four social-media companies as part of its investigation into the riot and its causes.

The committee issued subpoenas to Google parent company

Alphabet Inc.,

Meta Platforms Inc.,

Reddit Inc. and

Twitter Inc.,

after receiving what the committee called inadequate responses to its prior requests for information. The committee is demanding records related to the spread of misinformation, efforts to overturn the 2020 election, domestic violent extremism and foreign influence in the 2020 election.

“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 committee’s chairman,

Rep. Bennie Thompson

(D., Miss.), 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.”

The committee said it has been investigating the role of social-media platforms in efforts to overturn the 2020 election results and what the companies might have known about the spread of extremism in the lead-up to Jan. 6, 2021.

Mr. Thompson said in a letter to Alphabet that its YouTube was used for communications related to the Jan. 6 attack and to spread misinformation about the election. In a letter to Meta, Mr. Thompson cited public reports that the company’s platforms, which include Facebook, were used to spread messages of violence and for efforts to mobilize people to challenge the election results.

A Reddit spokesperson said the company had received the subpoena and will continue to work with the committee on its requests.

Twitter declined to comment. Representatives for the other companies didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The committee’s latest round of subpoenas comes a day after it asked House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy of California to voluntarily provide information about his conversations with then-President

Donald Trump

before, during and after the riot. Mr. McCarthy rejected the request, saying that it was politically motivated.

The panel is led by Mr. Thompson and Vice Chairwoman

Liz Cheney

(R., Wyo.). The investigation is looking into the causes and security failures of the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, when supporters of Mr. Trump stormed the building and temporarily disrupted the certification of Democrat

Joe Biden’s

presidential election win.

The panel has demanded records from a number of social-media companies over the past several months. The committee also has contacted former Trump administration officials and allies for testimony or documents.

The panel also asked to meet with Reps. Scott Perry (R., Pa.) and Jim Jordan (R., Ohio). Both rejected the committee’s request, saying the panel is illegitimate.

In an address to the nation on the anniversary of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, President Biden accused former President Donald Trump of spreading a ‘web of lies’ about the 2020 election. Photo: Michael Reynolds/Pool via Reuters

Write to Alexa Corse at [email protected]

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Appeared in the January 14, 2022, print edition as ‘Social-Media Firms Subpoenaed.’

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