The unprecedented FBI raid of Mar-a-Lago to recover classified documents former President Donald Trump allegedly took from the White House—for which he’s being investigated for potential violation of federal laws that include the Espionage Act—set Republicans and Trump supporters off on a frenzy earlier this month. From Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene calling to defund the law enforcement agency to several GOP lawmakers fear-mongering over the weaponization of IRS agents to come after citizens, the reactions, in the words of my colleague Inae Oh, were “extremely amped up, conspiratorial, and ready for battle.”
In extremist online circles, calls for civil war and violence against law enforcement picked up, with analysts identifying rhetoric such as “lock and load” and “when does the shooting start?” On August 11, that discourse and increased online threats against federal officials and facilities translated into real-world violence when an armed Ohio man was killed after trying to breach an FBI office in Cincinnati. A few days later, a man in Pennsylvania was arrested and charged with threatening the FBI for posts saying ““My only goal is to kill more of them before I drop” and ““If You Work For The FBI Then You Deserve To Die.”
Now, House Democrats are urging social media companies to address the spike in calls for violence against law enforcement on their platforms in the aftermath of the Mar-a-Lago raid. “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,” the letter signed by Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney of New York, the chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee and Rep. Stephen F. Lynch of Massachusetts, thee chairman of the National Security Subcommittee, reads. “We urge you to take immediate action to address any threats of violence against law enforcement that appear on your company’s platforms. The letters were also sent to executives of eight companies, including Facebook’s parent group Meta, Twitter and TikTok, in addition to far-right websites such as Gab, Gettr, Rumble, and Trump’s Truth Social, according to the New York Times.
The letter asks for information about how many identified threats to federal law enforcement have been removed from the platforms and whether they have experienced an increase in such threats since the FBI raid of Trump’s Florida estate.