Tasked with investigating the January 6 terrorist attack on the US Capitol, the US Department of Justice issued four subpoenas to Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit seeking more information about the incident. The chairman of the special commission handling the case, Bennie Thompson, said in a statement that the subpoenas were issued due to “inadequate responses to previous requests for information.”
The four American giants are clearly marked. The subpoenas relate to “the spread of misinformation, efforts to nullify the 2020 election, domestic violent extremism and foreign influence in the 2020 election,” he said Thursday.
“Two key questions for the task force are how the spread of disinformation and violent extremism has contributed to the violent assault on our democracy, and what steps, if any, have social media companies taken to prevent their platforms are fertile ground for radicalizing people. to violence,” he said.
Grilled social media
Social networks will not be able to clear this time. “It is disappointing that after months of engagement, we still do not have the necessary documents and information to answer these fundamental questions. The task force is working to get answers to the American people and help ensure that nothing like January 6 ever happens again. We cannot allow our important work to be further delayed. »
In a letter to Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, the US lawmaker argued that YouTube was a “platform for important communications from its users that were relevant to the planning and execution of the January 6 attack on the United States Capitol, including live streams of the attack as it unfolded.”
The letter notes that former Trump administration official Steve Bannon livestreamed his podcast on YouTube in the days before and after January 6, and that live streams of the attack appeared on YouTube during its development.
“The Select Committee believes that Alphabet has material undisclosed information that is critical to its investigation, regarding how Alphabet developed, implemented, and reviewed its content moderation, algorithmic promotion, demonetization, and other policies that may have affected the events of September 6. January 2021. he wrote.
“Alphabet, for example, has not produced documents that fully explain the non-public discussions and moderation policies that led to President Trump’s suspension or that explain whether or not the platform acted on President Trump’s account prior to January 6. Additionally, Alphabet has not produced any documents related to YouTube’s political decisions that may have affected the planning, coordination, and execution of the January 6 attack on the US Capitol. »
In a statement sent to , Google management defends itself by stating that “it has actively cooperated with the special commission since its investigation began, responding substantially to its requests for documents, and has committed to working with Congress throughout this process. “.
American justice awaits answers
“We have strict policies prohibiting content that incites violence or undermines trust in elections on YouTube and Google products, and we enforced those policies in the lead up to January 6 and continue to do so today. We remain vigilant and are committed to protecting our platforms from abuse,” a Google spokesperson said.
Letters from the US court to the CEOs of Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Reddit and Twitter, also blame those companies for failing to adequately respond to questions from Congress about their role in facilitating the attack last year. When consulted on the subject, the Meta address did not want to comment, as did Twitter.
“We have received the subpoena and will continue to work with the committee on their requests,” a Reddit spokesperson said. For its part, the platform is criticized by the commission of inquiry for having hosted the “r/The_Donald” “subreddit” community, which eventually moved to TheDonald.win site in 2020. According to Bennie Thompson, the website “hosted important discussions and plans related to the January 6 attack.
Twitter has also been accused of allowing users to plan and execute the assault on Capitol Hill. According to Bennie Thompson, Twitter “would have been notified of the possible violence planned on the site before January 6.”
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