A US House committee has slammed YouTube parent company Alphabet, Meta (formerly Facebook), online discussion forum Reddit, and Twitter for failing to provide additional information on how those platforms were used to organise violent events at the US Capitol on January 6 last year, after months of engagement.
As part of its investigation into the January 6 attack on the US Capitol and its causes, Chairman Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS) stated that the Select Committee has issued subpoenas to four social media corporations.
The Select Committee is requesting records from Alphabet, Meta, Reddit, and Twitter relating to the spread of misinformation, efforts to overturn the 2020 election, domestic violent extremism, and foreign influence in the 2020 election after receiving inadequate responses to previous requests for information.
“Two key questions for the Select Committee are how 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 becoming breeding grounds for riling up people to violence,” Chairman Thompson said.
“We still do not have the documentation and information necessary to answer those basic inquiries” after months of involvement, which is disheartening. According to the committee, Alphabet’s YouTube served as a venue for major communications by its users related to the preparation and execution of the January 6 attack on the US Capitol, including livestreams of the incident as it occurred.
Meta platforms were reportedly used to propagate hate, violence, and inciting messages; spread misinformation, disinformation, and conspiracy theories about the election; and coordinate (or attempt to coordinate) the Stop the Steal movement.
The “r/The Donald “‘subreddit ‘ on Reddit expanded rapidly before transferring to the website TheDonald.win in 2020, which eventually hosted considerable debate and planning leading to the January 6 attack. According to the committee, “Twitter subscribers apparently used the platform for discussions regarding the planning and execution of the assault on the United States Capitol,” and “Twitter was reportedly warned about potential violence being planned on the site in advance of January 6.”
As the country appears more divided than ever, US President Joe Biden warned last week that Americans must ensure that an attack like the one on the US Capitol a year ago “never happens again.”
One year after the tragic attack on the Capitol, Democrats and Republicans continue to disagree on major aspects of the attack, its aftermath, and the congressional investigation into it. Multiple people were killed, nearly 100 were injured, and the Capitol was damaged as a result of the Capitol riot.