“Facebook Provided Warning to FBI Before January 6, GAO Report Reveals”

Just Security:

A new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) reveals that seven federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies were aware of open source information on social media about “potential violence” planned for January 6, 2021. The report suggests that federal agencies had ample authority and information to anticipate and prepare for a violent assault on the Capitol.

The findings of the report, titled “Federal Agencies’ Use of Open Source Data and Related Threat Products Prior to January 6, 2021,” also raise questions about statements by FBI Director Christopher Wray in previous testimony to Congress. The report states that the representatives of at least two social media platforms – Facebook and Parler – told the GAO that their companies provided information to the FBI “regarding potential violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.”…

The May 2022 GAO report is a “a public version of a sensitive report” issued on Feb. 16, 2022 and accordingly omits some information that federal agencies considered sensitive. Prepared for congressional leadership, the report is intended to “review the extent to which information sharing and coordination related to the Capitol attack occurred on or before January 6, 2021.”

GAO looked specifically at what open source data was obtained from social media by federal agencies and what analytical reports, or “threat products,” the agencies produced with that data. It scrutinized agencies collecting and handling such information including the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Intelligence and Analysis, U.S. Secret Service, U.S. Park Police, National Park Service, Architect of the Capitol, U.S. Capitol Police, House Sergeant at Arms, Senate Sergeant at Arms, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

The GAO also “interviewed representatives from three social media platforms, including two large ones—Facebook and Twitter—and a smaller one—Parler—to determine the extent to which they shared open source information with federal agencies.” While Parler previously revealed to congressional investigators that it sent specific warnings to the FBI about threats on its platform, including threats to kill politicians and the coordination of armed groups, the GAO report is the first to confirm that Facebook shared information with the FBI regarding potential violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6…

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