74ºF

FBI launches campaign to deter hoax threats made on social media

#ThinkBeforeYouPost aims to educate public about consequences of online threats

SAN ANTONIO – "Think before you post" -- It's the slogan of a new campaign launched by the FBI that's aimed at deterring social media users from making fake threats.

The campaign was launched after the FBI saw a spike in hoax threats following the Parkland, Florida school shooting in February.

FBI Special Agent Michelle Lee said, in many cases, threats are a waste of time and money.

“Law enforcement is diverting resources that are addressing public safety threats to these hoax threats,” Lee said.

Students and parents have reported threats seen on social media to the New Braunfels, Seguin, Hondo, Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City and Harlandale independent school districts.

The North East, Northside, San Antonio and Edgewood independent school districts have also received concerning reports from parents and students.

The FBI is hoping its new campaign, #ThinkBeforeYouPost, will deter hoax threats, while also making the public aware of the stiff consequences.

“You could be convicted of up to five years, and if there's anyone who was injured or killed in the course of the hoax threat that you made, then you could be sentenced up to 20 years in prison,” Lee said.

Someone convicted could also be required to pay tens of thousands of dollars in restitution, but parents with little ones in school say that's too lenient.

“My fears are probably like every other parent. You want to protect your kids and make sure they're safe, especially at school," said parent Harvey McIntosh.

The FBI hopes the new campaign will also encourage people to report others who are making threats online.

The FBI said, while it saw a spike in hoax threats following the shooting in Parkland, Florida, it hasn't seen a similar response to the Santa Fe shooting. The reason why is unclear.

For more information on what to do if you see or hear about a threat click here.


About the Author: