House panel seeks social media data on FBI threats made after Trump search

By Thomson Reuters Aug 19, 2022 | 1:04 PM

(Reuters) – U.S. Democratic lawmakers on Friday asked social media platforms to turn over data regarding an increase in online threats aimed at law enforcement following a search of former President Donald Trump’s Florida home and asked how they planned to respond.

House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney and Stephen Lynch, Chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, urged chief executives to act fast in letters addressed to eight internet companies, including Facebook-parent Meta Platforms Inc., Twitter Inc. and TikTok.

The requests come more than a week after a Columbus man was shot dead in a standoff with police after he tried to breach an FBI building in Ohio. Last week the FBI and U.S Department of Homeland Security alerted law enforcement agencies of an increase in threats.

The Democrats want to know if the uptick in online threats was linked to what they described as “reckless statements” issued by Trump and Republicans condemning the search.

“We urge you to take immediate action to address any threats of violence against law enforcement that appear on your

company’s platforms,” the lawmakers said in the letters.

Letters were also made out to the Trump-backed platform Truth Social, Rumble, Gettr, Telegram and Gab.

In addition to information about the companies’ response to the online threats, the House panel also asked for their plans to minimize users’ ability to incite violence.

Lawmakers said they would consider proposing legislation to protect law officers and improve coordination with federal agencies.

The FBI has been the subject of online threats since its agents searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate last week as part of an investigation into documents removed from the White House when Trump left office in January 2021. Agents removed 11 sets of classified records from the resort in Palm Beach, including some labeled “top secret” for the most sensitive U.S. national security information.

(Reporting by Tyler Clifford in New York; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)