January 21, 2022

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Jan. 6 investigators subpoena Twitter, YouTube, Facebook’s parent and other tech giants – POLITICO

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The companies have until Jan. 27 to comply.

A Reddit spokesperson said the company had received the subpoena and would continue to work with the committee on its requests. A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment. Meta spokesperson Andy Stone said the company has produced documents to the panel and will continue to do so. Google said the company is “actively cooperating” with the investigation.

The panel in August asked a host of tech companies, including Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, Google and YouTube, for records about their handling of misinformation, efforts to overturn the 2020 election, foreign influence and domestic violent extremism. Investigators probing the Capitol riot also sought information on how the companies’ algorithms boosted that kind of content, and changes made since the attack.

Thursday’s subpoenas signal, however, that the committee views the companies’ current level of cooperation as insufficient.

Over the past year, lawmakers have homed in on how social media algorithms amplify misinformation, particularly in the wake of documents and testimony from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen.

Both Google, which owns YouTube, and Facebook owner Meta have been criticized for not doing enough to tamp down on dangerous and false content. Internal company documents made public by Haugen show the company had already begun dismantling its election safeguards before the Jan. 6 riot and struggled to respond to election disinformation.

Fact-checking groups have also targeted YouTube for failing to crack down on election falsehoods and other misinformation.

Reddit hosted a discussion group, r/The_Donald, that was banned by the company in June 2020 and later migrated by its founders to a separate website, TheDonald.win. That migrated forum later hosted discussions about the election and Jan. 6, the committee said.

Both Meta and YouTube have provided extensive information to the Justice Department as part of its investigation into the Capitol riot. An analysis by tech publication Recode found prosecutors have cited data from Facebook or Google, which makes the Android operating system for smartphones and an eponymous, ubiquitous maps app, in 75 percent of the cases they have filed so far.

And while Google, Facebook and Twitter all say they have taken extensive steps to combat election misinformation, a POLITICO investigation one year after the insurrection found conspiracies still proliferate on the social media sites and the companies struggle to police the issue.

Nicholas Wu contributed to this report.

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