Lawmakers demand data on online threats after FBI’s Mar-a-Lago search

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House Oversight Committee leaders are calling on social media companies to take ‘immediate action’ to deal with a flood of violent online threats against law enforcement, following the FBI’s raid of the Mar estate. -a-Lago of former President Donald Trump in Florida.

Lawmakers on Friday sent letters to executives of eight social media companies, including Facebook parent company Meta and right-wing fringe platform Gab, demanding details on the number of threats against law enforcement. The letters cite a “spike of social media users calling for civil war” and other violence against law enforcement after Trump and some Republican members of Congress lashed out at the FBI.

The letters say these online threats contributed to attacks on law enforcement, citing threats that the shooter who tried to break into the FBI’s Cincinnati field office earlier this month shared on the social network of Trump, TruthSocial.

“We are concerned that the reckless statements by the former president and Republican members of Congress have sparked a flood of violent social media threats that have already left at least one person dead and pose a danger to law enforcement across the United States,” said the letters written by House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (DN.Y.) and House National Security Subcommittee Chairman Stephen F. Lynch (D-Mass.). “We urge you to take immediate action to address any threats of law enforcement violence that appear on your company’s platforms.”

FBI attacker contributed prolifically to Trump’s Truth Social website

The letters request information on how companies respond to threats of violence, including how many threats against law enforcement have been removed and how many have been reported to authorities. Lawmakers are also asking for plans to ensure the platforms are not used to incite further violence against law enforcement, and records of any advertising appearing alongside violent comments.

Lawmakers also sent letters to the executives of Twitter, TikTok, Truth Social, Rumble, Gettr and Telegram, soliciting mainstream social networks, as well as alternative social networks favored by Trump supporters.

Law enforcement officials have been sounding the alarm over threats against federal agents for a week as top GOP leaders accused the FBI, without evidence, of carrying out a politicized attack on Trump. Politicians have exploited the longstanding hostility of Trump and his supporters to the weapons of the federal government, which some call the “deep state.” The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security released a joint bulletin last week warning of an “increase in violent threats posted on social media against federal officials and facilities.”

Federal law enforcement officials warn of danger as GOP attacks FBI

Letters sent Friday cite specific threats to Truth Social. “The Second Amendment is not about shooting deer! Lock and load!” said a message addressed to the “federals”. Another said, “Arm yourself! We are about to enter the civil war!

The arrest of a Pennsylvania man accused of uttering threats of violence against FBI personnel is also cited in the letters. He would have posted on Gab: “Every piece of [expletive] who works for the FBI in any capacity, from the director to the janitor who cleans their [expletive] toilet deserves to die. You declared war on us and now it’s open season on YOU.

Gab CEO Andrew Torba responded to The Washington Post’s request for comment with links to a pair of blog posts, including one where Gab said he was “considering” his response to Congress and that he promptly responded to law enforcement inquiries related to the arrest in Pennsylvania. Twitter spokeswoman Katie Rosborough confirmed receipt of the letter and said law enforcement teams were monitoring violations of its policies. Telegram representative Remi Vaughn said the company prohibits calls for violence and uses a combination of user reporting and proactive moderation to monitor such threats. The other five social networks did not respond.

House Democrats examine renewed online calls for violence against law enforcement as they tackle the role social media played in fomenting the deadly January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol. The social media demands come after the House committee investigating the January 6 attacks sent subpoenas to major tech companies, after saying they were not cooperating with it. Social media posts and interviews with tech executives have been included in recent committee hearings.

In Friday’s letters, the lawmakers also ask the companies whether legislation is needed to “protect law enforcement personnel and enhance coordination with federal authorities.”

Amanda J. Marsh