US House panel subpoenas social media firms in Capitol attack probe

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WASHINGTON: The US House of Representatives committee investigating the Jan 6 attack on the Capitol subpoenaed Facebook parent Meta, Alphabet, Twitter and Reddit on Thursday (Jan 13), seeking information about how their platforms were used to help spread misinformation and violent extremism in the failed bid to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

“We cannot allow our important work to be delayed any further,” the House Select Committee’s chairman, Bennie Thompson, said in a statement.

The subpoenas are the latest development in the panel’s investigation into the causes of the attack on the Capitol by then-President Donald Trump’s supporters, and the role played by Trump, who has pushed false claims that he lost a rigged election to Joe Biden.

“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 radicalising people to violence,” Representative Thompson said.

“It’s disappointing that after months of engagement, we still do not have the documents and information necessary to answer those basic questions.”

The companies have until Jan 27 to comply. Twitter declined to comment and spokespeople for Meta and Alphabet did not immediately respond to requests for comment. A Reddit spokesperson said: “We received the subpoena and will continue to work with the committee on their requests.”