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Facebook pressed to retain digital evidence from Capitol riot

Facebook pressed to retain digital evidence from Capitol riot

  • Updated

Protesters interact with Capitol Police inside the U.S. Capitol Building on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. A group of Republican senators said they would reject the Electoral College votes of several states unless Congress appointed a commission to audit the election results. (Win McNamee/Getty Images/TNS)

WASHINGTON — One of Big Tech’s prominent critics in Washington called on telecom and social media companies to preserve digital evidence from this week’s pro-Trump riots on the U.S. Capitol, which left five people dead.

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat from Virginia, wrote to Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg and asked him to “undertake reasonable measures” to retain any content linked to the attacks that may be needed for future legal action.

“The texts, videos and pictures posted to your platforms — and associated meta-data, cloud backups and subscriber information — are critical evidence in helping to bring these rioters to justice,” Warner wrote in a letter dated Friday. “The United States Capitol is now a crime scene.”

Warner, the incoming chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, earlier described Twitter Inc.’s decision to ban President Donald Trump as “an overdue step.” Facebook has already blocked Trump on its platforms at least until the end of his term.

Separately, the Office of the House Sergeant at Arms on Saturday called on members of Congress and staff to provide Capitol Police with any digital evidence they have from last Wednesday’s violent scenes, when a mob stormed the building and disrupted Congress’s count of Electoral College votes.

This includes video and photos, according to a memo. The recipients were also encouraged to report any other crimes including theft or destruction as soon as possible.

The Department of Justice on Saturday announced that three men who allegedly took part in the riots at the U.S. Capitol had been arrested, including a Florida man photographed carrying the House Speaker’s lectern while smiling and waving.

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