Leaders on the House Oversight Committee are demanding major social media platforms swiftly address the surge of online threats against law enforcement after the FBI’s search of former president Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida last week.
On Friday, the lawmakers sent letters to eight major social media companies demanding information detailing the number of threats against law enforcement made on their platforms in recent weeks. The committee targeted its inquiries toward prominent mainstream platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok, but also wrote to fringe right-leaning competitors like Gab, GETTR, Rumble, and Trump’s own Truth Social.
“threats and incitements of deadly violence are unacceptable and against the law”
In the letters, the lawmakers called for details on how each platform identifies and responds to these online threats. They also asked for copies of any advertisements “shown alongside posts” that either were reported to or targeted law enforcement officials. The lawmakers cited several posts made by users on Twitter and Truth Social “calling for civil war and violence toward law enforcement.” They also noted posts from sitting Republican representatives like Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) demanding Congress “defund” or “destroy” the “corrupt FBI.”
“We are concerned that reckless statements by the former President and Republican Members of Congress have unleashed a flood of violent threats on social media that have already led to at least one death and pose a danger to law enforcement officers across the United States,” the lawmakers wrote. “We urge you to take immediate action to address any threats of violence against law enforcement that appear on your company’s platforms.”
The committee’s letters come just a week after federal authorities sounded the alarm about the growing number of online threats being made against law enforcement. The FBI and Department of Homeland Security shared a joint intelligence bulletin with state, local, and tribal law enforcement officials across the country last Friday highlighting the surge. The bulletin said that the threats were being made “primarily online and across multiple platforms, including social media sites, web forums, video sharing platforms, and image boards.”
The FBI and DHS warned that an escalation in online threats could contribute to real-world violence against law enforcement officials. In the bulletin, the authorities highlighted alarming posts made by a Truth Social user shortly after the search who later attempted to breach an FBI field office in Cincinnati, Ohio last week.
“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,” the lawmakers wrote. “However, threats and incitements of deadly violence are unacceptable and against the law.”
Trump himself has continued to denounce the FBI on Truth Social, accusing officials of planting evidence and other unlawful behavior. After being kicked off most major social media platforms after the January 6th attack on the Capitol last year, Trump launched the platform, whose downloads have jumped nearly 550 percent since the search, according to a new report from Vice on Friday.