Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Yet another reminder: Think before you post or you might end up in the ‘big house’

(Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of the FBI)
(Southside Daily photo/Courtesy of the FBI)

In the aftermath of recent incidents such as the Virginia Beach municipal center mass shooting as well as those in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas, the FBI notices an increase in hoax threats.

The threats are often posted on social media or via text messages, the FBI wrote in an online news release.

So federal authorities want to remind the public that hoax threats are not a joke and they can have devastating consequences — for both the public and for the perpetrators.

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Issuing a threat—even over social media, via text message, or through e-mail — is a federal crime (threatening interstate communications), according to the FBI.

Those who post or send those threats can receive up to five years in prison — they can face state or local charges.

With a thoughtless remark on social media, young people risk starting out their adult lives in prison and forever being labeled a felon, according to the FBI.

“The Bureau and its law enforcement partners take each threat seriously. We investigate and fully analyze each threat to determine its credibility,” said FBI Deputy Director David Bowdich. “Hoax threats disrupt school, waste limited law enforcement resources, and put first responders in unnecessary danger. We also don’t want to see a young person start out adulthood with a felony record over an impulsive social media post. It’s not a joke; always think before you post.”

In addition to consequences for people who issue threats, there is also a significant societal cost.

Law enforcement agencies have limited resources, and responding to hoax threats diverts officers and costs taxpayers.

The threats can also cause severe emotional distress to students, school personnel, and parents.

What to do

The FBI has a few tips for would-be hoax posters as well as the public to follow if they happen to see a threat posted.

First off, the FBI warns to never post or send any hoax threats.

Additionally, the FBI encourages people to alert local law enforcement immediately if they are a target of an online threat or if they see a threat of violence posted on social media.

Members of the public can submit tips to the FBI at tips.fbi.gov.

After reporting the threats to authorities, the next step the FBI wants the public to take is to not share or forward the threat until law enforcement has a chance to investigate.

That can spread misinformation and cause panic.

Lastly, the FBI wants those who may be parents or family members of a young people to speak with their children or relatives about proper outlets for stress or other emotions and explain the importance of responsible social media use and the consequences of posting hoax threats.

To find more information and resources on preventing threats and hoax threats, click here.

To submit a tip, click here.

John Mangalonzohttp://wydaily.com
John Mangalonzo (john@localdailymedia.com) is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.

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