U.S. lawmakers seek social media data after increase in online threats against law enforcement

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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. The lawmakers also asked social media companies how they planned to respond.

U.S. House Oversight Committee chairwoman Carolyn Maloney and Stephen Lynch, chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, urged chief executives to act quickly in letters addressed to eight internet companies, including Twitter,TikTok and Facebook’s parent company, Meta.

The requests come more than a week after a Columbus man was shot dead in a stand-off 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 to an increase in threats.

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

Platforms urged to curb threats

“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.

WATCH | Portion of affadavit could be made public: 

Parts of Trump affidavit could be unsealed

U.S. Judge Bruce Reinhart said he is leaning toward releasing some of the evidence that was used to justify the U.S. Justice Department’s search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort last week.

Letters were also made out to the Trump-backed platform Truth Social, as well as 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 co-ordination 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, Fla., including some labelled “top secret” for the most sensitive U.S. national security information.

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