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Jan. 6 committee subpoenas social networks after 'inadequate' responses

The committee wants more information from Twitter, Reddit and the parent companies of Google and Facebook about what role they played in last year's deadly Capitol Hill attack.

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Facebook, Twitter and Google are reckoning with their role in the spread of misinformation. 
Brett Pearce/CNET

The House committee investigating the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riot said Thursday that it subpoenaed Reddit, Twitter and the parent companies of Facebook and Google after receiving "inadequate responses" from the tech giants. 

In August, the Select Committee asked 15 platforms for records "related to the spread of misinformation, efforts to overturn the 2020 election or prevent the certification of the results, domestic violent extremism, and foreign influence in the 2020 election." The committee is also looking at what steps social networks took to prevent their platforms from being "breeding grounds" for radicalization. 

"It's disappointing that after months of engagement, we still do not have the documents and information necessary to answer those basic questions," committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, said in a statement. 

In a letter to Facebook's parent company, Meta, Thompson cited news reports about how people used Meta's platforms to spread misinformation, conspiracy theories, hate speech and violence before Jan. 6, along with documents provided by former Facebook product manager turned whistleblower Frances Haugen.

Facebook has downplayed its role in the Jan. 6 attack and CEO Mark Zuckerberg told US lawmakers in March he thinks "the responsibility here lies with the people who took the actions to break the law and do the insurrection."

Last week, an investigation by ProPublica and The Washington Post found evidence that Facebook played a "critical role in spreading lies that fomented the violence of Jan. 6." At least 650,000 posts in Facebook groups attacked the legitimacy of Joe Biden's presidential victory over Donald Trump, and many called for political violence, the news outlets reported. Trump has a rally scheduled for Saturday in Arizona.

A Reddit spokesperson said the company "received the subpoena and will continue to work with the committee on their requests." A Meta spokesman said the social network has "produced documents to the committee on a schedule committee staff requested" and "will continue to do so." A spokesperson for Google's parent company, Alphabet, said it's "actively cooperating with the Select Committee since they started their investigation, responding substantively to their requests for documents, and are committed to working with Congress through this process." Twitter declined to comment.