In September 2023, a user on X posted what appeared to be a shocking news story. The post said that U.S. President Joe Biden had allegedly ordered the FBI to make unannounced "knock and talk" visits to the homes of more than 100,000 supporters of former President Donald Trump.
The post was created by @RetroCoast. The account appeared to primarily concentrate on posting vintage American pictures from the 1960s, 1970s and other decades. Its replies were also filled with what looked to be right-wing political viewpoints.
The post (archived) read, "Breaking: Biden has ordered the FBI to make unannounced home visits to Trump supporters nationwide. Over 100,000 such 'knock and talk' visits have occurred. The FBI agents say, 'You haven't done anything wrong yet, we just want to talk...' Is this a form of voter intimidation?"
Generally, knock-and-talk visits conducted by law enforcement officers involve knocking on a door, speaking with the occupants and asking for permission to search the residence. "This technique is practiced in the absence of an arrest or search warrant and is considered a consensual encounter between police and citizens," the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin published in 2006.
As for the post in question, we found no demonstrable evidence that would support the rumor that Biden had made such an order, or that the FBI was carrying out hundreds of thousands of visits to homes of Trump supporters.
A rating of "True" or "False" cannot be applied in a case where there's not a shred of documentation or other proof. We created a fact-check rating named "Unfounded" for claims just like this one. Such claims typically originate as hearsay, speculation or groundless rumor.
We contacted the White House, FBI and U.S. Justice Department by email to ask about the post. We did receive any initial responses.
However, in an update, on Oct. 19, a spokesperson for the FBI sent us the following statement:
While our standard practice is to not comment on statements posted in social media, any allegation that the FBI targets individuals solely for their political beliefs is categorically false. The FBI investigates those who commit acts of violence or threaten violence, and we do not take action based on political belief or any First Amendment protected activity.
Multiple users replied to @RetroCoast to ask for data and sources that would help to confirm the claim that had been made. We also reached out to the user to ask for proof that "over 100,000" home visits had been conducted of Trump supporters. We did not receive an answer.
For more information about knock-and-talk visits, we refer readers to the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin post. The article examines whether such home visits violate the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. That amendment reads as follows:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.