House Oversight and Reform Committee chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) reportedly sent a letter to acting FBI Director Christopher Wray this week demanding that the agency conduct a “robust examination” into Twitter alternative Parler.
Democrats, looking to tie the company to a January 6th riot at the United States Capitol that left five dead and dozens injured, now want to know whether Parler, which only recently relaunched, at least partly, after being booted from Amazon’s web servers, is being bankrolled by a hostile foreign government.
No other social media platform is set for scrutiny, according to Maloney’s letter, even though both Twitter and Facebook, as CNN notes, are still playing host to “posts promoting violence during inauguration week.”
“The chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Thursday asked the FBI to conduct a ‘robust examination’ of the alleged role in the Jan. 6 Capitol siege of Parler, the now-disabled social media site that bristled with violent chatter before and after rioters stormed the Capitol in a rampage,” The Washington Post reported Thursday.
“Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), the chairwoman, said the request is a step toward opening a formal committee investigation into sites that may encourage violence, including Parler,” the outlet continued. “It became prominent last year as a freewheeling alternative to Twitter, gaining popularity in particular among conservatives.”
Maloney is particularly concerned about Parler’s new hosting services and its “alleged ties to Russia,” the country Democrats insisted had compromised the 2016 election by improperly collaborating with the Trump 2016 presidential campaign — an allegation that the Trump campaign denies, and for which Democrats produced no evidence, despite a two-year-long special counsel investigation.
“I am going to get to the bottom of who owns and funds social media platforms like Parler that condone and create violence,” she said.
CNN and other legacy media networks have pointed out that Parler was not the only platform used to organize the events of January 6th, and both Facebook and Twitter appear to have played host to groups and conversations promoting the idea that Democrats had engaged in a national vote fraud campaign to undermine the 2020 presidential election.
Additionally, its possible Maloney may not have the authority to do more than question Parler, given that, as The Washington Post points out, the social media platform is protected under Section 230, the same Federal provision that largely absolves Twitter and Facebook of liability for user-generated content.
“Congress has wide-ranging authority to inquire about private companies, but Parler and other social media sites also enjoy broad legal immunity for what others post on their platforms through Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act,” the outlet says. “While there is ample evidence of hateful conversation ahead of the attack on the Capitol and calls for violence against members of Congress, those were made by Parler’s users — many of them using pseudonyms — a fact limiting Parler’s responsibility for them.”