House Panel Requests Records From 15 Social Media Companies as It Investigates Capitol Riot

A House panel investigating the insurrection on January 6 at the U.S. Capitol is demanding records from more than a dozen social media companies.

The select committee on Friday sent a letter to 15 platforms and tech firms seeking a range of documents—including data, reports and analyses—dating back to the spring of 2020.

The panel is also seeking any information on policy changes the companies made, or failed to make, in response to the spread of misinformation and violent extremism on their platforms. This will include decisions made to ban material from their sites, as well as any communication with law enforcement agencies and government entities.

Among the companies targeted were Facebook, Twitter and Google, as well as several right-wing platforms.

Committee Requests Records from Social Media Companies
A congressional panel investigating the January 6 insurrection is demanding records from more than a dozen social media companies. The above photo, taken on October 21, 2020, shows the logos of Google, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram on a computer screen in Lille, France. Denis Charlet/AFP via Getty Images

Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, said in a press release that the lawmakers are 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, procedures, rules, or regulations."

The move comes as the January 6th committee expands its probe into the deadly riot.

On Wednesday, the panel demanded documents from eight government agencies for information on the gathering of intelligence before the riot, security preparations around the Capitol and the role agencies played in defending the area.

Requests were made to the FBI, Department of Justice, Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, Department of the Interior and several other agencies.

The committee also demanded records about "how the January 6th events fit in the continuum of efforts to subvert the rule of law, overturn the results of the November 3, 2020 election, or otherwise impede the peaceful transfer of power."

Former President Donald Trump has threatened to invoke executive privilege in an effort to block the panel from obtaining the records it requested from the departments. However, it is ultimately up to the Biden administration to decide whether the information can be shared with lawmakers.

"Executive privilege will be defended, not just on behalf of my Administration and the Patriots who worked beside me, but on behalf of the Office of the President of the United States and the future of our Nation," Trump said in a statement.

The former president also called the committee's request "a partisan sham and waste of taxpayer dollars."

A Google spokesperson confirmed to Newsweek that the company had received the Select Committee's letter and is "committed to working with Congress on this."

"The events of January 6 were unprecedented and tragic, and Google and YouTube strongly condemn them," the spokesperson said. "We're committed to protecting our platforms from abuse, including by rigorously enforcing our policies for content related to the events of January 6."

A Facebook company spokesperson also confirmed they "received the request and look forward to continuing to work with the committee."

Newsweek reached out to Twitter for comment but did not receive a response before publication.

Update 8/27/2021, 4:30 p.m.: This story has been updated with comment from Facebook.