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House Democrats demand social media companies address online threats after Trump’s Mar-a-Lago raided

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The sign for the J. Edgar Hoover FBI building can be seen through fencing and barbed wire surrounding construction on the side of the building in Washington, D.C., U.S., August 17, 2022.
Leah Millis | Reuters

House Oversight Committee leaders urged eight social media companies Friday to crack down on online threats against law enforcement that 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, as well as 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 since the Aug. 8 search of the former president’s Palm Beach, Florida, residence, along with information about company policies for reporting and removing threats.

Statements by Trump and his Republican allies about the search may have “unleashed a flood of violent threats on social media that have already led to at least one death,” Oversight Chairwoman Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and National Security subcommittee Chairman Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., wrote in 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, according to NBC News.

The Democrats were also referencing a man 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 numerous threatening messages on Truth Social following the Mar-a-Lago raid.

“We urge you to take immediate action to address any threats of violence against law enforcement that appear on your company’s platforms,” Maloney and Lynch wrote in 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 Building on a resolution on whether to hold 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 speak out about the actions of their government and law enforcement matters, including on social media platforms. However, threats and incitements of deadly violence are unacceptable and against the law,” they wrote.

The committee leaders said they are also looking into “whether legislative reform is necessary to protect 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.

Numerous Republican officials quickly issued statements criticizing the raid and supporting Trump, the de facto GOP leader who is considering a 2024 presidential run. Some, such as 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 in the 2020 election, said he felt “deep concern” about the “unprecedented” move.

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

“The Second Amendment is not about shooting deer! Lock and load!” one post read. “Arm yourselves! We are about to enter into Civil War!” another user wrote.

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

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