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How a Maine Man’s Humorous Tweet Sparked a Secret Service Saga

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The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project has shed light on a Secret Service investigation into a Maine man for posts on Twitter that showed what was described as “unusual interest” in President Joe Biden’s family. Despite these posts being seemingly non-threatening and satirical, the Secret Service launched a formal inquiry in summer 2022, led by Senior Agent John Mazza.

This probe into the Army veteran’s social media activity commenced approximately 18 months after Biden’s presidential inauguration. Originating from a request by a regional office, the Secret Service deemed it necessary to start a “preliminary protective intelligence investigation” without clear evidence of any threat. The content that caught their attention included a post where the man humorously claimed he wanted to “invade the White House and get pics of Biden in his ‘Depends,'” a reference to a type of adult diaper.

Notably, the inquiry began under the mistaken belief that the man had shown interest in a non-existent “iCloud hack” involving Hunter Biden, the president’s son. Instead, the controversial data had come from what was termed the “Laptop From Hell,” involving decrypted iPhone backups, as discussed by New York Post.

This investigation stands in contrast to how threats against former President Donald Trump, even those suggesting violence, appear to be handled differently on social media. Despite no tangible threats being identified in this Maine man’s case, the Secret Service extended its probe beyond the initial stages.

Moreover, the man’s name, which the group has chosen not to publish, was never linked to any crime, and he has chosen not to comment publicly on the investigation.

Documents obtained through a FOIA request by the Oversight Project revealed that the basis for the investigation was largely the man’s protected First Amendment speech. This has raised concerns about potential government overreach, especially targeting individuals, particularly conservatives, expressing their views online. Kara Frederick, director of The Heritage Foundation’s Tech Policy Center, has highlighted the increasing governmental efforts to surveil Americans’ online expressions.

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