House Democrats seeking to drill down on the spread of election fraud falsehoods on social media in advance of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot need to look no further than some of their Republican colleagues.
A Washington Post analysis found that seven Republican members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee who are scheduled to grill the chief executives of Facebook, Google and Twitter about election misinformation on Thursday sent tweets that advanced baseless narratives of election fraud, or otherwise supported President Donald Trump’s efforts to challenge the results of the presidential election. They were among 15 of the 26 Republican members of the committee who voted to overturn President Biden’s election victory.
Three Republican members of the committee, Reps. Markwayne Mullin (Okla.), Billy Long (Mo.) and Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (Ga.), tweeted or retweeted posts with the phrase “Stop the Steal” in the chaotic aftermath of the 2020 presidential election. Stop the Steal was an online movement that researchers studying disinformation say led to the violence that overtook the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
Graham Brookie, the director of the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab, said the online Stop the Steal movement was “the coordinating function” for the Capitol riots. He said the lawmakers’ involvement in amplifying it undermined the committee’s efforts to scrutinize the tech companies’ handling of disinformation.