The conservative-leaning social-media network Parler referred violent content from its platform to the FBI more than 50 times in the weeks before the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, the company said Thursday, following criticism that it failed to adequately police threats ahead of the deadly attack.
Parler in December began alerting the bureau to content suggesting the possibility of violence at the Capitol as Congress met to confirm President Biden’s victory, the company wrote in a letter to the House Oversight and Reform Committee, which is investigating Parler and its role in the siege.
The social-media site referred a number of posts to law enforcement, including one on Dec. 24 from a user who called for an “armed force” of 150,000 people to “react to the congressional events of January 6,” according to the letter, which included the post and communications with FBI officials among its exhibits and has been reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
Parler said it forwarded to the Federal Bureau of Investigation on Jan. 2 a series of posts from a user saying he would be wearing body armor to the pro-Trump rally on Jan. 6. “It’s no longer a protest,” Parler quoted the post as saying. “This is a final stand where we are drawing the red line at Capitol Hill. I trust the American people will take back the USA with force and many are ready to die to take back #USA.”
In another post, a Parler user made clear that armed people would be at the Capitol that day, saying “they may be concealed at first but if congress does the wrong thing expect real chaos because Trump needs us to cause chaos to enact the #insurrectionact.”
The FBI declined to comment. FBI officials have repeatedly said they had no specific, credible threats about violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6 and had shared information they had as quickly as possible with other law-enforcement agencies. “What we did not have, as far as I can tell, is any indication that hundreds and hundreds of people were going to breach the U.S. Capitol,” FBI Director Christopher Wray told NPR last week.
The torrent of online and social-media communications also makes it difficult to distinguish online bravado from genuine threats, law-enforcement officials have said.