Twitter Surveillance

When he began listening to a voicemail and realized it was from an officer of the Portland Police Bureau, the Oregon Democratic Party field organizer and prolific tweeter’s first thought was that he’d been caught illegally streaming movies from his laptop. 

Miles Larson didn’t expect to be accused of threatening Nancy Pelosi, the current speaker of the United States House of Representatives who visited Portland Sept. 6 to fundraise for congressional candidates. 

The reason the police called Larson, who posts under the account @MalcolmFLeX or “Biracial Angel” on Twitter, was over a tweet he’d sent 42 minutes before receiving the voicemail, that read:

“Nancy Pelosi in Portland rn time to shoot my shot.”

“This is stupid now but when I got the voicemail,” which he says came from a private number, “I fully thought it was because I pirated Jordan Peele’s Nope last week,” Larson said in an interview with Eugene Weekly. “I recently got an email from Comcast telling me to fuck off and I fully expected it to be about that.”

What Larson thought was a relatively innocent tweet espousing his plans to ask the visiting dignitary on a date, turned out to be troubling enough to warrant a phone call from the PPB, becoming a reminder of how law enforcement uses social media and how easily it can grab their attention — even if you think you’re anonymous. 

Larson, through his non-work related @MalcoImFLeX Twitter account, is a shitposter and troll in the classic sense. His tweets range from absurd to surrealistic and are often aimed at provoking the ire of those Larson believes take the internet and its ensuing discourses far too seriously. His tweets traffic in the kind of post-irony humor that might leave those who aren’t terminally online scratching their heads — and that’s partially the point. 

“Even after he said I made a tweet about Nancy Pelosi I still didn’t get how I fucked up,” Larson said. “And then he said the tweet mentioned ‘shooting your shot.’ I quickly realized it looked like I was threatening a politician.”

PPB public information officer, Sgt. Kevin Allen, confirmed to EW in an email that a Sgt. Matt Jacobs did reach out to Larson with a concern over the tweet’s meaning, but said he can’t provide specifics about how the police bureau investigates potential threats. 

When there is a specific event, such as the visit of a dignitary, officers assigned to our intelligence unit typically engage in a limited scan for posts that might indicate a threat and may complete a follow-up investigation depending on the circumstances,” Allen said. “But I do want to say that PPB does not ‘scour social media for threats.’”

According to Larson, Jacobs asked how he knew Pelosi was going to be in Portland.

 Larson replied that he knew because of his job as a field organizer for the 1st congressional district at the Democratic Party of Oregon. Jacobs then told Larson that he’d been at the event and that the police showed Larson’s DMV photo to organizers at the event, including his boss at the DPO 

“Fortunately, my boss is on the younger side,” Larson said. “He saw the tweet and was like ‘This is obviously a joke and not even a joke about hurting someone,’ so fortunately they were both very, very cool with it and just kind of laughed at me, which is fair because it’s ultimately pretty funny.”

Larson told EW that the Portland police never asked him to delete the tweet in question, but that his boss recommended it. 

“And I wasn’t about to argue,” Larson said. 

Representative for Pelosi did not respond to a request for comment on whether or not she’d accept a date with “Bi-Racial Angel.”