The House Jan. 6 committee on Thursday issued subpoenas targeting YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Reddit, ramping up the pressure after the platforms provided “inadequate responses to prior requests for information.”
The panel is demanding documents and testimony from the social media companies as it probes “how the spread of misinformation and violent extremism contributed to the violent attack on our democracy,” and what steps the companies took “to prevent their platforms from being breeding grounds for radicalizing people to violence.”
“It’s disappointing that after months of engagement, we still do not have the documents and information necessary to answer those basic questions,” said Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, Mississippi Democrat and chairman of the committee.
The four companies were named in the committee’s sweeping demands for documents in late August. The committee targeted tech platforms including Snapchat, Telegram and Tik-Tok, as well less well-known groups such as 4chan and 8kun.
The snub by the social media companies adds to the growing pushback as the committee tries to wrangle key witnesses.
In a letter Thursday to YouTube parent company Alphabet, the panel said the video-sharing app “was a platform for significant communications by its users that were relevant to the planning and execution” of the attack on the Capitol.
The committee cites Facebook as being used to “share messages of hatred, violence, and incitement” and to spread conspiracy theories surrounding the election.
“Public accounts about Facebook’s Civic Integrity Team indicate that Facebook has documents that are critical to the Select Committee’s investigation,” Mr. Thompson said in his letter to Facebook parent company Meta.
The panel also homed in on a Reddit thread “r/The_Donnald” which the panel said “hosted significant discussion and planning” related to the Capitol attack. The thread eventually migrated to TheDonald.win.
The lawmakers say Twitter users leveraged the platform for “communications regarding the planning and execution of the assault on the United States Capitol” and to promote election fraud conspiracies, including those put forward by former President Donald Trump.
The panel also said Twitter had been “warned about potential violence being planned on the site in advance of January 6th.”
The Democrat-led panel continues to face pushback by witnesses who say the committee has overstepped its bounds.
Several individuals, both Trump insiders and those outside of his orbit have sued the committee over its demands for phone records.
Three Republican lawmakers including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy have turned down the committee’s formal request to participate in the probe.
Republicans contend that the Democrat-led panel has weaponized the events of Jan. 6 and say that the committee serves as a political tool to target conservatives.
Democrats insist the sole aim of the probe is to uncover the truth about what led to the Capitol riot to ensure a similar event never takes place again.
“The Select Committee is working to get answers for the American people and help ensure nothing like January 6th ever happens again,” Mr. Thompson said. “We cannot allow our important work to be delayed any further.”
The committee has interviewed close to 350 witnesses and issued close to 60 subpoenas.