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Dominion Voting tells Facebook, Parler and other social media sites to preserve posts for lawsuits

SAN FRANCISCO — Lawyers for Dominion Voting Systems have asked Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Parler to preserve posts about the company, even if the material was already removed for spreading misinformation.

The posts need to be kept “because they are relevant to Dominion’s defamation claims relating to false accusations that Dominion rigged the 2020 election,” according to the demand letters from Dominion’s law firm Clare Locke. Dominion sued Rudolph W. Giuliani and Sidney Powell for more than $ 1.3 billion each in January, alleging that the lawyers defamed Dominion by saying the machines were used to steal the election from President Donald Trump.

Dominion asked each company to keep posts from slightly differing lists of people. Those included right-wing pundit Dan Bongino, Fox News host Maria Bartiromo, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell and Powell. It also included news organizations Fox News, One America News Network and Newsmax and — in Twitter’s case — Trump.

Dominion warned in its letters to the social media companies that more lawsuits would be coming.

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube all have policies against spreading election-related misinformation. They have been removing — with varying degrees of success — posts falsely suggesting the election had been rigged since the baseless rumors began spreading in November. Parler was effectively knocked offline in January when Amazon, Apple and Google stopped providing it technical services for violating their policies against online posts that incite violence.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Parler did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the demands to preserve posts. Often material will remain in the company’s servers even if it has been deleted off their sites. Trump’s tweets, which are no longer visible on Twitter after he the former president was banned last month, have also been archived by many independent organizations.

“We respectfully request that YouTube preserve and retain all posts, messages, documents, data, and electronically stored information relating in any way to Dominion or the disinformation campaign referenced above,” Dominion wrote to the Google-owned video streaming company. “This preservation request applies to posts and comments about Dominion that YouTube has removed for violating its terms of use.”

Fox News pointed to a series of on-air comments of hosts and guests refuting vote tampering. Newsmax and One America News Network did not immediately respond to requests for comment. In a comment about the suit brought against him last month, Guiliani said he thought the case would give him a chance to prove his claims about Dominion. Powell did not respond to a request for comment when the case against her was reported.

Trump and his supporters attempted to sow doubt in the 2020 presidential election after Joe Biden won. The false rhetoric suggested Democrats had tried to “steal” the election and used rigged voting machines to do so. The baseless claims damaged Dominion’s reputation and business, the company said in its lawsuit against Giuliani.

Lawmakers are probing the role of social media sites in the spread of election disinformation after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Despite the big social media companies enacting policies and employing thousands of moderators to keep misinformation offline, the baseless claims still pick up steam and spread — often reaching thousands or millions of people before they are pulled offline.

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