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Social Media Companies Questioned About ‘Civil War’ Posts

August 19, 2022 by Madeline Hughes
Social Media Companies Questioned About ‘Civil War’ Posts

WASHINGTON — Eight of the top social media companies received letters Friday asking about posts related to a “civil war,” which have increased in the wake of the FBI search of Donald Trump’s home, Mar-A-Lago.

Top Democrats on the House Oversight Committee and National Security Subcommittee are asking these questions about online threats in the wake of the search that uncovered top-secret documents at Trump’s home.

In its letters to social media companies, including Trump’s own Truth Social, it references a Truth Social post that said, “Arm yourselves! We are about to enter into Civil War!”

Since the search, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security have warned about threats of violence against law enforcement and other federal agents.

In both the government agencies’ warnings and the letter, officials also cite the attack on the Cincinnati, Ohio, FBI field office in the days after the FBI search.

The letters ask for the exact number of threats to law enforcement made on these platforms along with how the companies are addressing these potential threats.

“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,” wrote ​​Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, D-Mass., chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, in a statement

“We urge you to take immediate action to address any threats of violence against law enforcement that appear on your company’s platforms.”

In the letters, they further explain, “Violent rhetoric and personal threats and attacks toward law enforcement officers have deadly consequences. One retired FBI special agent explained, ‘All of this rhetoric is being thrown around without any consideration for possible consequences … All that does is stir up that minority within the base that aren’t satisfied with just words, they actually want to act it out.’”

The chairs also ask about companies’ user policies, which could either permit or deter these types of posts. And they ask about what resources the companies are using to enforce those policies.

In the letters, they specify violent threats are not protected speech.

“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. However, threats and incitements of deadly violence are unacceptable and against the law,” the chairs wrote. 

“The committee is seeking to understand how your company responds when users post threats against law enforcement, how your company plans to prevent your platform from being used to incite violence against law enforcement personnel, and whether legislative reform is necessary to protect law enforcement personnel and increase coordination with federal authorities.”

Madeline can be reached at maddie@thewellnews.com or @ByMaddieHughes

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