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Lawmakers Seek 'Immediate Action' Over Social Media Threats to FBI

The leaders of two House committees sent letters to eight social media companies demanding that they take “immediate action” to address threats on their platforms toward federal law enforcement officials after a surge in right-wing calls for violence over the FBI's search of former President Trump’s home in Florida, reports the New York Times. Representatives Carolyn Maloney, (D-NY) ,chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee, and Stephen Lynch (D-MA), chairman of its National Security Subcommittee, expressed concern about statements from Trump and some Republican members of Congress. Letters were sent to mainstream platforms like Twitter, TikTok and Facebook’s parent company, Meta, as well as right-wing social media sites like Gab, Gettr and Rumble. A letter sent to Truth Social, Trump’s social media site, which was spammed with calls for violence last week, after FBI agents carted away highly sensitive documents from Mar-a-Lago, the former president’s estate in Palm Beach, FL.

Republican lawmakers rallied around the former president, and criticized federal law enforcement officials. Trump described his home as “under siege” by FBI agents, and his political committee asked for followers in a fundraising appeal. The Justice Department is being accused by GOP lawmakers of weaponizing against Trump. They compared the FBI to the Nazi secret police. A state lawmaker in Florida wrote that agents operating there should be arrested on sight. Social media companies were asked to provide information on the number of threats they had identified against federal law enforcement, how many they had removed and reported to the authorities, and whether they were directly related to the Mar-a-Lago search. The letters asked for the companies’ plan to remove the threats off their platforms. Twitter saw a tenfold increase in the 24 hours after the Mar-a-Lago search in posts that mention ”civil war”. Messages were also posted urging others to fight back and take up arms. Ricky Shiffer, the Ohio man who was killed after attempting to breach the FBI's Cincinnati office and posting messages calling for war and encouraging others to kill federal agents, was cited by House lawmakers as an instance of how online vitriol had resulted in real-world violence.

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