Wray suggests limits on FBI social media tracking a 'lesson learned' after Jan. 6

Wray suggests limits on FBI social media tracking a 'lesson learned' after Jan. 6
© Greg Nash

FBI Director Christopher Wray on Tuesday suggested possibly revisiting limits on the agency’s ability to monitor social media for potential threats.

Wray, testifying before the House Oversight and Reform Committee, pointed to limits on government surveillance as a possible “lesson learned” in the months following the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

“We have very specific policies that have been at the department for a long time that govern our ability to use social media. And when we have an authorized purpose and proper predication there's a lot of things we can do on social media, and we do do and we aggressively do. But what we can't do on social media is without proper predication and an authorized purpose just monitor — just in case — on social media,” Wray said in response to a question from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezSunday shows preview: Delta concerns prompt CDC mask update; bipartisan infrastructure bill to face challenges in Senate House adjourns for recess without passing bill to extend federal eviction ban Democrats warn shrinking Biden's spending plan could backfire MORE (D-N.Y.).

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“Now if the policies should be changed to reflect that — that might be one of the important lessons learned coming out of this whole experience. But that's not something that currently the FBI has either the authority or certainly the resources frankly to do.”

But during the hearing Wray also faced criticism from Chair Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn MaloneyDOJ tells former Trump officials they can testify in Jan. 6 investigations: report Overnight Energy: Democrats request interview with Exxon lobbyist after undercover tapes | Biden EPA to reconsider Trump rollback on power plant pollution in 2022 | How climate change and human beings influence wildfires Democrats request interview with Exxon lobbyist after undercover tapes MORE (D-N.Y.) for not having better communication with tech companies seeking to flag alarming content, asking Wray whether he agreed the agency “shares some blame for the failures on Jan. 6.” 

Social network Parler, a popular platform among former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump PACs brought in over M for the first half of 2021 Chicago owes Trump M tax refund, state's attorney mounts legal challenge Biden hits resistance from unions on vaccine requirement MORE's supporters, announced in March that it had referred content from its site to the FBI more than 50 times leading up to Jan. 6.

But Wray told Maloney on Tuesday that the content never made it to his desk and said content flagged by Parler is still under review.

“I'm not aware of Parler ever trying to contact my office. I am aware, since Jan. 6, that Parler has made some comments about its communications with the FBI. My understanding is that they send emails to particular field office, and that some of those contain positive threat information. Some of them were referred to domestic terrorism squads for follow up, and we've been taking a hard look at the various emails that Parler sent to assess the accuracy of their assertions, and whether further action is warranted,” Wray said.