Jan 15, 2022
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1/6/21 Insurrection—What Did the Social Networks Know?

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The January 6 committee has had enough of delay and prevarication. The Congressional Select Ctte. wants evidence about alleged insurrectionists conspiring in the days leading up to that fateful day. And right now would be a good time.
It’s written yet again to four social network CEOs, telling them in no uncertain terms to get a move on. Oh, and by the way, here’s a subpoena each—to focus your minds.
For example, in a letter to Zuckerberg, it wrote, “Despite repeated and specific follow-up requests … Meta has declined to commit to a deadline for producing or even identifying these materials. In light of these and other significant gaps in Meta’s response to the Select Committee, [we are] transmitting this subpoena requiring documents.”
Shots fired. In today’s SB Blogwatch, we break out the popcorn.
Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention: Back to crazyness.
What’s the craic? Dareh Gregorian, Leigh Ann Caldwell and Ezra Kaplan report—“Jan. 6 committee subpoenas tech giants after ‘inadequate responses’”:
Angry, hateful, unspeakable, combative, violent
A letter to Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg said … Meta failed to turn over information about its decision to disband its civic integrity team, [which] “focused on risks to elections including misinformation. … Additionally, Meta has failed to provide critical … analyses conducted by the company regarding misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation … and the use of Meta by domestic violent extremists.”

The panel also sent a letter to Sundar Pichai … saying, “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. … To this day, YouTube is a platform on which user video spreads misinformation about the election.”

The letter to Reddit CEO Steven Huffman sought more information about “subreddits” involving former President Donald Trump, and the letter to Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal said the company has failed to turn over warnings it received about violent threats and documentation about its decision to suspend Trump’s account.

Testifying … in March, FBI Director Christopher Wray suggested that the amount of vitriol online makes it difficult to sort out. “The amount of angry, hateful, unspeakable, combative, violent even, rhetoric on social media exceeds what anybody in their worst imagination [thinks] is out there,” he told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Stuff got real. Taylor Hatmaker has this—“House committee investigating Jan. 6 subpoenas Meta, YouTube, Twitter and Reddit”:
Banned over hate speech
Facebook was a major hub of the Stop the Steal movement as the platform failed to control the spread of content denying the … results of the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Facebook was also previously the organizing platform of choice for some extremist and militia-like organizations … in the Capitol attack, including the Proud Boys and the Three Percenters.

The committee’s complaint with Reddit appears to be focused on r/The_Donald, a notorious subreddit that [was] banned over hate speech in late January 2020. The committee also noted that YouTube was used to livestream the events and Twitter users “reportedly used the platform for communications regarding the planning and execution of the assault.”

Speaking of YouTube, Will Sattelberg has a short attention span—“Congress really wants to blame social media”:
Stephen Bannon
Although it may feel like a distant memory, the January 6th Capitol riots only occurred one year ago. … The committee … 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.

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 committee [believes] Alphabet has more knowledge on its role in those events than it has let on.

tl;dr? Tim Graham provides a precis:
Dragged kicking and screaming
Democracy is dealing with the disastrous externalities of [social] platforms’ profit models. … Just like oil companies polluting the environment, looks like they need to be dragged kicking and screaming into taking action.

But was this really an organized militia seeking to overthrow the U.S.? Or were they mere opportunist idiots? krapp knows:
Second Amendment
It was both. Some of the groups involved were clearly taking it more seriously than others, even if none of them were really up to the task.

Intent still matters. And the modern interpretation of the Second Amendment would certainly consider them one or more well-organized militias—once they’re at the point of discussing tactics on Discord and color-coordinating their wardrobes.

How did we get here? zeeky boogy doog recalls the scene:
An orchestrated plan
We all spent the whole day getting nothing done because we were watching the live news in disbelieving horror. … We saw every sordid, horrible moment of the lowest point our once-great democracy has ever reached, as a cult of moron terrorists disrupted the peaceful transfer of power for the first time in our nation’s history.

Then in the following days, weeks, months, we started seeing that it was far more than just an attack by a mob of angry dumb****s. … We found out the obvious signs that there was an orchestrated plan to [murder] our elected officials on live national TV.

So is the committee doing a good job? Jennifer Rubin thinks so:
The Jan. 6 committee may be the best committee ever. Focused like a laser, tough-minded, keeping up public education and now preparing for primetime hearings. Kudos to Bennie G. Thompson and Liz Cheney.

And what do the four firms have to say for themselves? Luke Broadwater and Mike Isaac collate the drawer statements—“Demanding information from Alphabet, Meta, Reddit and Twitter”:
Google said in a statement that it had been cooperating with the committee and that the company had “strict policies prohibiting content that incites violence or undermines trust in elections.”

Meta said that it had “produced documents to the committee on a schedule committee staff requested — and we will continue to do so.”

A Reddit spokeswoman said the firm had received the subpoena and “will continue to work with the committee on their requests.”

A spokeswoman for Twitter declined to comment.

Meanwhile, kneel with me, ArchieBunker:
The Narcissist’s Prayer:
That didn’t happen.
And if it did, it wasn’t that bad.
And if it was, that’s not a big deal—you are here.
And if it is, that’s not my fault.
And if it was, I didn’t mean it.
And if I did, you deserved it.

Danger Mouse vs. Amy Jade W.
Previously in And Finally
You have been reading SB Blogwatch by Richi Jennings. Richi curates the best bloggy bits, finest forums, and weirdest websites … so you don’t have to. Hate mail may be directed to @RiCHi or [email protected]. Ask your doctor before reading. Your mileage may vary. E&OE. 30.
Image sauce: Andy Feliciotti (via Unsplash)
Richi Jennings is a foolish independent industry analyst, editor, and content strategist. A former developer and marketer, he’s also written or edited for Computerworld, Microsoft, Cisco, Micro Focus, HashiCorp, Ferris Research, Osterman Research, Orthogonal Thinking, Native Trust, Elgan Media, Petri, Cyren, Agari, Webroot, HP, HPE, NetApp on Forbes and CIO.com. Bizarrely, his ridiculous work has even won awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors, ABM/Jesse H. Neal, and B2B Magazine.
richi has 316 posts and counting.See all posts by richi

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