Lawmakers on the House Oversight Committee are demanding answers from social media platforms on their responses to a spike in online threats against federal law enforcement after the search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate last week.
Letters were sent to nine social media platforms Friday, including mainstream sites like Meta, Twitter and TikTok and right-wing platforms like Gab, GETTR and Trump’s Truth Social.
In the letters, the lawmakers asked the platforms to explain how they are identifying and responding to threats and to produce any advertisements “shown alongside posts” reported to law enforcement or removed from the platform for making threats against law enforcement.
“The Committee strongly supports the First Amendment rights of all Americans to speak out about the actions of their government and law enforcement matters, including on social media platforms,” said the letter, penned Friday by Reps. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., who chairs the committee, and Stephen Lynch, D-Mass. “However, threats and incitements of deadly violence are unacceptable and against the law.”
Federal law enforcement agents on Aug. 8 searched Trump’s Florida residence as part of an the investigation into his removal of classified documents from the White House when he left office. The warrant authorizing the search of Mar-a-Lago revealed that he is under investigation in connection with statutes related to the Espionage Act, record mismanagement and obstruction.
Since Trump first announced the search last week, researchers and experts on extremism have seen a significant spike in violent and hateful rhetoric across the internet directed at the federal government and FBI.
“It’s clear that some view the warrant at Mar-a-Lago as a call to arms,” Carla Hill, director of investigative research at the Anti Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, previously told USA TODAY.
The Ohio man who on Aug. 11 attempted to attack the FBI’s Cincinnati field office made posts on Trump’s Truth Social to “take your weapon to work” and “Kill F.B.I. on sight.” He was shot and killed after a standoff with police.
Though Trump continues to criticize the FBI on Truth Social, some Republicans have denounced the attacks, including former Vice President Mike Pence.
In the letters, the lawmakers urged social media groups to take action against the threats on their platforms.
“Violent rhetoric and personal threats and attacks toward law enforcement officers have deadly consequences,” the letter reads.
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