Georgian Says Secret Service Showed Up At Home Over Anti-Trump Facebook Comment
Dylan Josey sipped on coffee one morning last month when a black, unmarked Ford pickup pulled into the driveway. Two government agents with pistols on their hips hopped out and knocked on the front door.
One agent asked if they could come inside and look around, Josey said.
Imagine the surprise. Josey has struggled with addiction and feared the past had finally caught up.
“You say anything about harming the president on Facebook?” the agent asked, according to Josey.
The incident for the Augusta resident served as the ultimate example of "big government" watching what ordinary Americans are doing on social media. And as far-fetched as it might seem, similar stories of Secret Service agents showing up at people's homes over Facebook posts have been reported in recent years in Ohio and Texas.
Josey said the government agents were interested in investigating a series of comments left on a Facebook thread. On the thread, Josey jokingly wrote how protesters would like to "tar and feather" the president. Josey said the comment was meant in jest, but it was enough to draw the attention of the Secret Service.
Josey, who is three months sober, sought to keep issues with addiction private when the agents first started asking questions, but it became clear they were already aware of it.
"He knew because he plainly told me they have been watching my Facebook posts," Josey said.
According to Josey, the agents asked if there were any weapons in the house or plans of assassination against the president. The answer to both were "no," Josey said. The agents asked to photograph Josey for the record.
"He said I am more than welcome to attend a protest, but if something happened and things escalated, I would be looked at," Josey said.
The agents also had a folder full of previous Facebook statuses and a record of a previous DUI arrest, Josey said. After a few more moments, the agent assured Josey they didn't consider the Facebook remarks to be a serious threat. They also discussed Antifa, a grassroots political protest group that the government recently classified as a terrorist organization.
The agents, Josey said, asked that the comment be deleted.
In spite of the serious nature of the visit, Josey said the Facebook line of questioning brought some relief since the investigation had nothing to do with prior experiences with addiction.
"After they showed me the comment, I was at ease because of how ridiculous it was – and the agent stated he also felt the same," Josey said.
Josey's friend who posted the original status in question was also approached by the Secret Service. The friend spoke to GPB News on the condition of anonymity. He said that he jokingly posted something about harming the president on social media while intoxicated during the time of the Atlanta protests.
"They showed up at my house later that day and asked me a bunch of stupid questions," he said. "They took my photo on a cell phone and told me that if I got caught looting or were arrested out of state that I was (expletive)."
He said the encounter left him rethinking how often he should post on social media.
"It was pretty scary for a few days," he said. "It definitely made me not post on social media as much, and I didn’t really feel comfortable traveling or using my phone."
He said the agents made him sign a statement stating he was intoxicated while writing the posts.
The Secret Service Atlanta field office did not respond to GPB News' requests for comment.
On the Secret Service's website, the federal law enforcement agency describes its duty as protecting "the nation’s highest elected leaders, visiting foreign dignitaries, facilities and major events."