Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News
The Democrats who head the House Committee on Oversight and Reform have sent open letters to eight social media companies that they want to take more severe steps to curtail threats of violence against FBI agents in the wake of the agency’s raid on former President Donald Trump’s home in Florida.
Friday, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney of New York, the committee chairwoman, and Rep. Stephen F. Lynch of Massachusetts, chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security, wrote to Meta, Twitter, TikTok, Truth Social, Rumble, Gettr, Telegram, and Gab urging each company to prevent the doxing and harassment of law enforcement.
“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 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 death to which the congresspeople refer was not that of an FBI agent, but of the man who donned body armor and sought to enter the FBI’s Cincinnati field office.
There has been an uptick in threats of violence and calls for civil war across social media after FBI agents raided Trump’s Mar-A-Lago home.
As first reported by NBC News, on Friday Twitter suspended the account of Luis Miguel, a candidate for the Florida state house who wrote, “Under my plan, all Floridians will have permission to shoot FBI, IRS, ATF and all other feds on sight! Let freedom ring!”
This is an extreme example, but one that speaks to how vitriolic the reaction to the Mar-A-Lago raid has grown.
Republicans have not yet responded to the letter. Saturday morning, Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, the leader of the Republican contingent on the Oversight and Reform Committee, restated his frequent criticism that the FBI deserves additional oversight.
Specifically, in an interview on Newsmax that he shared on his Twitter feed, Comer accused FBI director Christopher Wray of having used taxpayer money and federal resources to conduct personal travel.
Many questions remain unanswered about the FBI's operations. Director Wray using government aircraft for personal travel is just the tip of the iceberg. @GOPoversight is determined to hold the FBI accountable. Any waste of taxpayer money is unacceptable. @Newsmax pic.twitter.com/DBDqcchsqC
— Rep. James Comer (@RepJamesComer) August 20, 2022
“Many questions remain unanswered about the FBI’s operations,” Comer wrote. “Director Wray using government aircraft for personal travel is just the tip of the iceberg. @GOPoversight is determined to hold the FBI accountable. Any waste of taxpayer money is unacceptable.”
As of this writing, none of the social media companies had responded, although each has a policy against violent content.
Truth Social, where the top-trending hashtag Saturday was “FBIcorruption,” forbids content that is “obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, violent, harassing, libelous, slanderous, or otherwise objectionable.”
However, whereas Twitter and Facebook parent Meta have a checkered history in terms of freedom of expression – and have managed to both delight and anger would-be censors by inconsistently and at times arbitrarily enforcing terms of service rules – the alternative platforms have consistently taken a broad view of what constitutes protected speech on their platforms.
The likelihood is that most, if not all, of the conservative-friendly platforms will balk, in part or in full, at Democrats’ definition of what constitutes incitement.
There is a growing movement among the left to label harsh critics of leftist policy and beliefs as “stochastic terrorists,” a term meant largely to suggest that charged or hateful speech will indirectly lead to violence even if the speaker specifically advocates for nonviolence.
Thus, what one person might call criticism another could describe as stochastic terrorism meant to incite someone, although by definition the speaker would not know who, to enact violence.
Democrats, likely sensing the almost certain First Amendment blowback, have said they do not mean this to be an attack on free 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,” the letter reads. “However, threats and incitements of deadly violence are unacceptable and against the law.”