A House committee investigating how social media companies restricted speech is putting Stanford University on notice.
Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, says Stanford failed to comply with an April subpoena seeking information about its Internet Observatory program, The Daily Wire can reveal.
In a letter dated Thursday, Jordan told a lawyer representing Stanford that the university now has until June 14 to comply, or his committee will “be forced to consider the use of one or more enforcement mechanisms.”
The GOP-led panel has a number of options it could explore, including criminal contempt of Congress, civil enforcement, or “inherent contempt.”
Projects of the Stanford Internet Observatory (SIO), which was founded in 2019, attracted scrutiny amid disclosures from the Twitter Files, raising concerns among Republicans about Big Tech censorship.
As Jordan noted in his letter, SIO is a member of two organizations that use the Jira Ticketing System to flag “alleged mis- and disinformation,” including posts regarding the 2020 election and COVID vaccines.
“Public and non-public information obtained by the Committee confirms that large social media companies moderated content based upon these tickets and other information shared by Stanford personnel,” Jordan wrote.
Jordan said that his committee wants to see “all Jira tickets and related communications to social media companies, which document purportedly false content posted online.”
The chairman’s subpoena also demands communications between SIO and the Executive Branch related to content moderation dating back to January 2020 and documents about grants, contracts, and funds from the federal government dating back to January 2015.
On its website, SIO pushes back on “inaccurate and misleading” claims about two coalitions it helped to convene. These groups are the Election Integrity Partnership (EIP) and Virality Project (VP), both of which are mentioned by Jordan in his letter Thursday.
SIO lists a series of details concerning the censorship of certain types of online posts and targeting conservative social media accounts. “The EIP and VP provided public factual findings to multiple entities, including government agencies and social media platforms, but had no control over content moderation, censorship, or labeling posts,” SIO says.
The Stanford program insists on its website that the only government funding that it has received came in the form of a five-year, $748,437 grant from the National Science Foundation, but stressed that no government money was used to study the 2020 election or to support the COVID vaccine-focused VP.
Jordan said the lawyer representing Stanford, John Bellinger III of Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP, “confirmed” to committee staff in a recent call that the university has documents and communications related to the Jira tickets, but would not be producing them to the panel.
“You have represented that the basis for your refusal is that these documents and communications concern only a research project conducted by Stanford students,” Jordan wrote. “This description is inconsistent with information obtained by the Committee and available in the public domain, which suggests that the government and large social media platforms initiated and received information via these relevant documents.”
The Daily Wire reached out to Bellinger and Stanford seeking comment.