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Democrats ask Twitter, TikTok, Meta about threats after Trump Mar-a-Lago raid

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The sign for the J. Edgar Hoover FBI constructing could be seen through fencing and barbed wire surrounding construction on the side of the constructing in Washington, D.C., U.S., August 17, 2022.

Leah Millis | Reuters

House Oversight Committee leaders urged eight social media corporations Friday to crack down on online threats against law enforcement which are reportedly on the rise following the FBI’s raid of former President Donald Trump’s home Mar-a-Lago.

The lawmakers sent letters demanding information and documents from Twitter, TikTok, Facebook parent company Meta and Telegram, in addition to the Trump-backed app Truth Social. Three other platforms with largely conservative followings, Rumble, Gettr and Gab, were also contacted.

The letters seek data on the threats posted online because the Aug. 8 search of the previous president’s Palm Beach, Florida, residence, together with details about company policies for reporting and removing threats.

Statements by Trump and his Republican allies in regards to the search can have “unleashed a flood of violent threats on social media which have already led to not less than one death,” Oversight Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and National Security subcommittee Chairman Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., wrote within the letters.

They cited a warning from the FBI and Homeland Security Department that threats against officers have spiked online since agents executed the Mar-a-Lago search warrant, in response to NBC News.

The Democrats were also referencing a person who fired a nail gun at an FBI office in Cincinnati, Ohio, then fled before being killed in a gunfight with police. That man, identified by police as Ricky Shiffer, had apparently posted quite a few threatening messages on Truth Social following the Mar-a-Lago raid.

“We urge you to take immediate motion to deal with any threats of violence against law enforcement that appear on your organization’s platforms,” Maloney and Lynch wrote within the letters.

Reps. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., are seen during a House Oversight and Reform Committee markup in Rayburn Constructing on a resolution on whether to carry Attorney General William Barr and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in contempt of Congress on Wednesday, June 12, 2019.

Tom Williams | Cq-roll Call, Inc. | Getty Images

“The Committee strongly supports the First Amendment rights of all Americans to talk out in regards to the actions of their government and law enforcement matters, including on social media platforms.  Nonetheless, threats and incitements of deadly violence are unacceptable and against the law,” they wrote. 

The committee leaders said also they are looking into “whether legislative reform is crucial to guard law enforcement personnel and increase coordination with federal authorities.”

Trump himself revealed the search in a furious statement on the evening of Aug. 8, declaring his resort home was “under siege” by FBI agents.

Quite a few Republican officials quickly issued statements criticizing the raid and supporting Trump, the de facto GOP leader who’s considering a 2024 presidential run. Some, reminiscent of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., suggested the Department of Justice during President Joe Biden’s administration had been weaponized against its political opponents.

Even former Vice President Mike Pence, whom Trump has considered an enemy ever since Pence refused to reject key electoral votes confirming Biden’s win within the 2020 election, said he felt “deep concern” in regards to the “unprecedented” move.

The letters sent Friday morning cited quite a few threatening posts from Truth Social that “coincided” with the rhetoric from GOP leaders.

“The Second Amendment is just not about shooting deer! Lock and cargo!” one post read. “Arm yourselves! We’re about to enter into Civil War!” one other user wrote.

Maloney and Lynch are asking the businesses to send the requested information by Sept. 2.

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