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DLive is under congressional scrutiny over Capitol attack

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Lawmakers want to know how it’s combating extremism

Postal Hearing at House Oversight Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images/Pool

After last month’s deadly pro-Trump attack on the Capitol, lawmakers are investigating the role DLive, one of the video-streaming platforms used to broadcast the riot, played in financing the violence.

In a letter to DLive’s chief executive officers Tuesday, Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) and Jackie Speier (D-CA) called on DLive for details into how it moderates extremist content and how the platform ensures bad actors won’t use its cryptocurrency-based donation model to finance that content anonymously.

“Our concern is that online platforms such as DLive are being used to promulgate extremist views that incite offline conflict and violence. We have worked with other platforms… to reform their governance practices around extremist content and that work is still ongoing,” the House Oversight Committee lawmakers wrote. “But it is clear that DLive is well behind its peers in platform governance and needs to take serious reformative actions.”

In last month’s deadly attack on the Capitol, several DLive users and rioters live-streamed it on DLive, a BitTorrent company. The New York Times reported last month that one user, Tim Gionet (also known as Baked Alaska), made over $2,000 while live-streaming the attack. After the January 6th riot, DLive said that it had suspended, removed, or limited 10 accounts and deleted 100 streams.

DLive CEO Charles Wayn responded to the platform’s scrutiny following the attack, writing in a January 17th blog post, “We absolutely condemn this abuse of our service and regret that it happened. As soon as we became aware of the situation, we acted to shut down those livestreams.” He continued, saying that the users who live-streamed the riot no longer had access to the “tokens,” or donations made by users.

Still, DLive has “paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars to extremists since its founding, largely through donations of cryptocurrency,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

DLive has been active since 2018, but it didn’t reach mainstream popularity until more recently, as popular figures began to flee larger and more restrictive platforms. In 2019, Felix Kjellberg, or PewDiePie, struck an exclusive video game streaming deal with DLive after years of fighting with YouTube over its policies. (Kjellberg returned to YouTube the following year.)

Right-wing influencers like Gionet and Nick Fuentes have also flocked to DLive, drawn by more relaxed moderation policies. As the platform began struggling with the rush of right-wing streamers, Wayn wrote to employees that his strategy was to “tolerate” them as more non-extremist users began using the platform, according to NYT.

In their Tuesday letter, lawmakers referenced this memo, asking Wayn if it is still “the company strategy to ‘tolerate’ right wing extremism?” DLive did not immediately respond to a request for comment.