House Oversight Democrats demand answers from social media executives on threats to law enforcement

·3 min read

The chairs of the powerful House Oversight Committee and its national security subcommittee are demanding answers on what social media platforms popular with far-right extremists are doing to address a spate of threats against law enforcement in the wake of the FBI search of former president Donald Trump’s Florida home.

In a letter sent to top executives at Meta, Twitter and TikTok, as well as far-right platforms Gettr, Rumble, Telegram, Gab, and Mr Trump’s own Truth Social, oversight committee chair Carolyn Maloney and national security subcommittee chair Stephen Lynch wrote to inquire about each company’s response to a “surge of online threats against law enforcement”. The increase in violent rhetoric follows the search of Mr Trump’s home and office at Mar-a-Lago, the Palm Beach mansion turned private club where he maintains his primary residence.

“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,” they said, adding that they “urge” the executives to “take immediate action to address any threats of violence against law enforcement” on their respective platforms.

Ms Maloney and Mr Lynch cited two specific examples of the “flood” of threats that FBI agents have faced since executing a lawful search warrant on Mr Trump’s home that were posted on Truth Social (by the Ohio man who was shot and killed by police after trying to attack a Cincinnati, Ohio FBI field office) and on Gab (by a Pennsylvania man who wrote on Gab that “every single piece of s*** who works for the FBI in any capacity ... deserves to die”), as well as an example of a former Trump White House aide who posted personal information about the two agents named on the warrant for Mr Trump’s home to Telegram.

And while the two House Democrats stressed that 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,” they said the threats of “deadly violence” are both “unacceptable and against the law”.

Continuing, Ms Maloney and Mr Lynch wrote that the oversight committee is “seeking to understand” how each company “responds when users post threats against law enforcement” and how each company plans to keep its’ platform from being used to “incite violence against law enforcement personnel”.

They asked each executive to respond to a series of questions , including details on how many threats against law enforcement have been identified on each platform since the 8 August search of Mr Trump’s home, how many of those threats were removed or reported to law enforcement, and how many of the threats identified “were related to the search warrant executed on former President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, to the FBI, or to the Department of Homeland Security”.

Responses to the letter are due from each company by by 2 September.

It’s unclear whether executives with the platforms most favoured by Mr Trump and his supporters will comply with the voluntary request.

Mr Trump’s platform, Truth Social, is run by former California congressman Devin Nunes, while Gettr is run by Jason Miller, a former campaign aide to the ex-president.

Gab, the oldest of the alternative social media platforms, is owned and operated by Andrew Torba, a self-described “Christian nationalist” who has exhibited no qualms about his site’s popularity with white nationalists and other extremists, and the video streaming site Rumble — a YouTube clone that is often a destination for people who’ve been banned from the Google-owned platform — is partly-owned by Dan Bongino, the ex-Secret Service agent and failed Maryland Senate candidate who hosts a weekend show on Fox News.