Congress really wants to blame social media for the insurrection, subpoenas Alphabet and everyone else

With YouTube specifically called out


Although it may feel like a distant memory, the January 6th Capitol riots only occurred one year ago this month. A group of congressional members is currently in the midst of an investigation into all things surrounding the event, and today, they’ve set their eyes on several tech companies. In addition to several social media platforms, Google’s parent company now needs to turn over information regarding any role its platforms — and specifically YouTube — played on that day.

As reported by The Washington Post, the House committee in charge of investigating the Capitol riots from last January has issued a subpoena against Alphabet. The move comes as members of Congress accuse the company — along with several other social media giants — of failing to provide requested documents and information regarding the spread of misinformation around the 2020 elections.

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The committee laid out what it’s looking for from Alphabet in today’s letter, and unsurprisingly, it all boils down to YouTube. Its members are looking for context about how the video-sharing service may have allowed users to communicate, plan, and execute the attack on January 6th. Former Trump adviser Stephen Bannon is specifically highlighted in the letter, as he streamed his podcast on YouTube both before and after the Capitol riots. His channel has since been deactivated.

The letter also highlights the committee’s belief that Alphabet has more knowledge on its role in those events than it has led on:

“The Select Committee believes Alphabet has significant undisclosed information that is critical to its investigation, concerning how Alphabet developed, implemented, and reviewed its content moderation, algorithmic promotion, demonetization, and other policies that may have affected the January 6, 2021 events.”

Today’s actions are far from the only conflict brewing between Google and the US government. A major antitrust lawsuit against the company is still ongoing, with unsealed documents from last fall revealing alleged collaboration between it and Facebook. Although the House committee’s subpoena is unrelated, it demonstrates the growing number of battles between tech companies and Congress.

Google provided us with the following statement regarding today’s news:

“We’ve been 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. We have strict policies prohibiting content that incites violence or undermines trust in elections across YouTube and Google’s products, and we enforced these policies in the run-up to January 6 and continue to do so today. We remain vigilant and are committed to protecting our platforms from abuse.”

We’ll have to wait and see how Alphabet continues to factor into Congress’s ongoing investigation.

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