House panel probing Jan. 6 asks tech giants for records

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Tech giants may rely more on European Union laws than U.S. laws to police what happens on their sites.

The select House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol sent letters to 15 websites and tech companies Friday demanding records related to the deadly insurrection.

The committee is giving the social media platforms — including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and right-leaning social network Parler — two weeks to respond to the request.

The panel “is examining the facts, circumstances, and causes of the attack and relating to the peaceful transfer of power, in order to identify and evaluate lessons learned and to recommend corrective laws, policies, procedures, rules, or regulations,” Chairman Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said in a statement.

The companies are being asked to turn over a large trove of information, including internal and external reviews of 2020 election misinformation or violent extremism, all content given to law enforcement related to those subjects and all relevant internal communications.

Other major companies being asked to turn over info include Google, Reddit, Snapchat and TikTok, while some more fringe websites such as 4chan and Gab are also being asked to supply information. Telegram, 8kun, and Zello round out the companies probed Friday.

Thompson told reporters Monday that the committee planned to ask telecommunications and social media companies to turn over the records of several hundred people, including lawmakers.

But Friday’s request doesn’t specifically ask for any data from lawmakers, instead focusing more specifically on chatter around the 2020 election.

The letter asks for any internal reviews from companies relating to “misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation” about the 2020 election, efforts to overturn the results, and  any discussion a wide variety of extremist groups had on these topics.

The Hill has reached out to the companies contacted except 8kun, Zello and, who could not be immediately reached.

Spokespersons for Reddit and Facebook confirmed receipt of the letter and pledged to cooperate with the committee, as did Google, speaking on behalf of itself and YouTube.

Twitter declined to comment.

The committee on Wednesday sent its first round of letters to various government agencies, asking for information on a variety of topics surrounding the day, including seeking communications from an exhaustive list of Trump associates, including family members and close aides.

Like the first round of letters, Friday’s request is for massive sets of data, including “accounts, users, groups, events, messaging forums, marketplaces, posts, or other user-generated content that was sanctioned, suspended, removed, throttled, deprioritized, labeled, suppressed, or banned from your platform(s)” in connection with their discussions surrounding the election.

Social media has taken significant blame for spreading the false belief that the 2020 presidential election was stolen.

Mainstream social media platforms were rife with election conspiracy content in the lead up to Jan. 6 while the conservative sites and encrypted messaging platforms had running open discussions about how best to invade the Capitol building.

Many platforms have defended their moderation policies surrounding the election, pointing to efforts to show users trusted sources and fact checks.

Updated at 2:48 p.m.

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