House Oversight Republicans Say FBI’s Capitol Riot Probe Into Parler Should Include Facebook, Twitter

House Oversight Republicans Say FBI’s Capitol Riot Probe Into Parler Should Include Facebook, Twitter
The Parler app logo on a smartphone with its website in the background in Arlington, Va., on July 2, 2020. (Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images)
Tom Ozimek

Republicans on the House Oversight Committee criticized calls by the panel’s chairwoman for an FBI investigation into the role the social media platform Parler may have played in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot as “blatantly and overtly partisan,” arguing that for any such probe to be fair, it should also include Facebook and Twitter.

Reps. James Comer (R-Ky.) and Greg Steube (R-Fla.) made the remarks in a letter (pdf) to committee Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), who last week asked FBI Director Christopher Wray to begin a “robust investigation” into whether Parler played a role in the Capitol breach.

Maloney called on the probe to include looking into whether Parler served as “a potential facilitator of planning and incitement related to the violence, as a repository of key evidence posted by users on its site, and as a potential conduit for foreign governments who may be financing civil unrest in the United States.”

Comer and Steube said in their letter to Maloney that, while they agree with calls to prosecute those involved in the Capitol breach, they feel singling out Parler is unfair.

“Like you, we were disturbed and angered by the riot and we believe those responsible should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” they wrote. “But casting blame on a single social media company known for its conservative userbase while simply ignoring other social media companies known for sympathizing with liberal causes is blatantly and overtly partisan.”

Comer and Steube said Maloney’s claim that Parler was a “potential facilitator” of planning for the Capitol breach “completely omits the fact that other social media platforms were also facilitators of the Jan. 6 riot.”

“A cursory search of other social media platforms yields identical, disturbing posts, from across the political spectrum, advocating for a wide swathe of positions, demonizing an equally diverse group of people,” they wrote, pointing to posts found on Facebook and Twitter, companies they said the committee has deemed “blameless.”

The two Republicans said Maloney’s letter was “additional evidence of the growing alliance between Big Tech and Democrats to muzzle certain viewpoints, opinions, and perspectives.”

“Your call for an investigation into Parler is a transparently political ploy taking advantage of the tragedy that occurred on Jan. 6 to shut down speech Democrats dislike,” they wrote, and called for any potential FBI probe to encompass Facebook and Twitter and “the roles those companies played to contribute to the Jan. 6 riot.”

Maloney’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment.

Responding to Maloney’s call for the probe, Parler COO Jeffrey Wernick told Fox News that the company welcomes a “robust examination of our policies and actions.”

“Like other social media platforms, we have been cooperating and will continue to cooperate with law enforcement efforts to identify and prosecute those individuals responsible for organizing and carrying out the shameless Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol,” he said.

Following the events of Jan. 6, Parler was dropped from Google Play and the Apple App Store, while Amazon Web Services disconnected the company from its servers.

Parler sued Amazon, asking the court to block Amazon from suspending Parler’s account. A judge last week denied that request.
Tom Ozimek is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times. He has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education.