On Truth Social, FBI research prompts talk of war, then conspiracy

Predictions of an impending civil war and calls for violence surged earlier this week on social media platforms such as Truth Social, the network launched by former President Donald J. Trump, after the raid approved by the court of his home in Florida on Monday.

The search, which resulted in the seizure of classified documents, according to a copy of the warrant obtained by The New York Times on Friday, sparked an immediate outburst of aggressive and threatening language, similar to the public rhetoric that has spread in the days preceding until the attack of January 6, 2021 against the Capitol.

Truth Social users posted that the United States was born “by insurrection followed by years of bloody violence”, and that the country “will become a communist state until we take up arms and fight back!! ” It has been said that “the tree of liberty should be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants”, a phrase from a letter from Thomas Jefferson, and that “sometimes weeding out dangerous vermin requires a minimal violence, unfortunately.”

“Not a nice guy anymore,” wrote one user. “We are at war. I promise you it will not be civil,” wrote another. “Lock and Load,” wrote a third.

An account bearing the name of Ricky Shiffer, the man who was killed in Ohio by police on Thursday, ending a standoff officials say began after he tried to break into the FBI office in Cincinnati , had posted messages on Truth Social recommending that “patriots” go to Florida and kill federal agents. On Thursday, the same account also appeared to confess to an attack on the FBI

In a series of recent posts, the account railed against law enforcement and issued a “call to arms”, claiming that for the past two years “they have been conditioning us to accept tyranny”. When someone asked if he was proposing terrorism, the account replied, “I propose war.” The Times could not immediately confirm whether the Truth Social account belonged to Mr. Shiffer, 42, of Columbus.

Truth Social’s community guidelines note that its “preference is that removal of users or user-contributed content be kept to an absolute minimum,” but says it will take action in cases where the platform is “used as a tool for crime or other illegal acts.” On a list of reasons to report problematic content, Truth Social includes “content that depicts violence or the threat of violence.”

The sentiments on Trump’s social media network have spilled over to other platforms as well. A Proud Boys Telegram channel, used by hundreds of members of the militant group, posted within hours of the raid that “civil war is imminent”. On Twitter, tweets mentioning “civil war” increased tenfold in the 24 hours following the raid, according to Dataminr, a tool that analyzes Twitter data.

But later in the week, a different narrative gained traction, propelled without evidence by other prominent Truth Social users: that the calls to violence were posts planted by federal law enforcement officials or Democratic agents to portray right-wing patriots as insurgents and extremists. The purpose, according to the conspiracy theory, is to give the Biden administration cover to strip Trump supporters of guns, or set up a pretext for martial law.

Jack Posobiec, a far-right commentator, wrote on Truth Social on Thursday that “ANYONE POSTING ABOUT VIOLENCE RIGHT NOW IS FED.” The ‘Conservative’ news site recommended people “assume that anyone advocating ‘civil war’ or violence of any kind is a plant in hopes that you’ll help support the left’s narrative”.

Lara Logan, another right-wing commentator, posted video Friday of an anti-FBI sign writhing in the air to show “Trump 2024 MAGA” on the other side, writing that “they tried to incite a civil war for some time.”

In the comments to his post, someone wrote, “Don’t forget to take the FBI out.”

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