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


House Oversight Committee leaders demand that social media companies take “immediate action” to address a flurry of violent online threats against law enforcement, following the FBI’s search for former President Donald’s Mar-a-Lago estate Trump in Florida.

Lawmakers on Friday sent letters to the executives of eight social media companies, including Facebook parent company Meta and fringe right-wing platform Gab, asking for details on the number of threats against law enforcement. The letters cite a “peak in 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 have contributed to attacks on law enforcement, citing the threats the gunman who attempted to breach the FBI’s Cincinnati field office earlier this month shared on Trump’s social network, Truth Social.

“We are concerned that reckless statements by the former president and Republican members of Congress have unleashed a torrent of violent threats on social media that have already resulted in at least one death and endanger law enforcement officials in the United States,” he said. . the letters written by the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Carolyn B. Maloney (DN.Y.) and the chairman of the National Security Subcommittee, Stephen F. Lynch (D-Mass.). “We urge you to take immediate action to address any threat of violence against law enforcement that appears on your company’s platforms.”

FBI Attacker Made Many Contributions to Trump’s Truth Social Website

The letters ask for information on how the companies are responding 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 calling for plans to ensure platforms are not used to incite further violence against law enforcement officers, and for documents on any advertisements that appeared alongside violent comments.

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

Law enforcement leaders have been sounding the alarm over threats against federal agents for a week as top GOP leaders have accused the FBI, without evidence, of carrying out a politicized attack on Trump. The politicians have taken advantage of long-standing animosity under Trump and his followers towards the weapons of the federal government, which some call the “Deep State.” The FBI and Department of Homeland Security issued a joint bulletin last week warning of an “increase in violent social media threats against federal officials and facilities.”

Federal Law Enforcement Warns of Danger if GOP Attacks FBI

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

The arrest of a Pennsylvania man charged with violence against FBI personnel is also cited in the letters. He is said to have posted to Gab: “Every piece of… [expletive] who works for the FBI in any capacity, from the director to the janitor who manages their [expletive] toilets deserve to die. You have declared war on us and now it is open season for YOU.”

Gab CEO Andrew Torba responded to The Washington Post’s request for comment with links to a few blog posts, including one in which Gab said it was “considering” its response to Congress and that it was responding promptly to law enforcement requests related to the Pennsylvania arrest. . The other seven companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

House Democrats investigate renewed online calls for violence against law enforcement officers as they grapple with the role social media played in fueling the deadly January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol. The demands on the social networks come after the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 attacks sent subpoenas to major tech companies after saying they were not cooperating. The committee’s recent hearings have included social media posts and interviews with tech executives.

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

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