National Security

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

FBI Director Christopher Wray
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-Cortez (D-N.Y.).

“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 Maloney (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 Trump’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.

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Carolyn Maloney Christopher Wray Donald Trump FBI Social media
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