FBI launches social media campaign to warn against hoax school threats
The FBI says hoaxes cost a lot of money and emotional distress -- and they will be prosecuted. So #ThinkBeforeYouPost.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Federal Bureau of Investigation is warning the public about the severe consequences of posting hoax threats against schools and other public places, through a new social media campaign launched on Wednesday.
"Making false threats drains law enforcement resources and cost taxpayers a lot of money," a news release from the FBI states. "When an investigation concludes there was a false or hoax threat made to a school, or another public place, a federal charge could be considered, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. If a federal charge is not warranted, state charges can be considered."
To underscore the point, the new campaign utilizes the hashtag #ThinkBeforeYouPost.
The warning is prompted, in part, by the recent shootings at Marshall County High School in Benton, Kentucky, Sante Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. The FBI said that in the aftermath of such shootings, the number of hoax threats made against schools and other public places increases, and given that the FBI said it investigates every tip it receives, this can be a costly drain on resources.
Amy Hess, the Special Agent in Charge for Louisville, said investigating hoax threats also reduces the amount of time agents have to look into other crimes.
“We’ll divert resources from other things ... things that they’re normally working like drug investigations or gang investigations,” Hess said.
If anyone is aware of any potential threats or suspicious activity, they are asked to call local authorities at 911, or contact the FBI via tips.fbi.gov or over the phone (1-800-CALL-FBI). The public can also call their nearest FBI field office or report a tip.
"Early intervention can prevent a situation from escalating by identifying, assessing and managing the threat," the news release states. "Remember, if you see something, say something. Hoax threats are not a joke, so think before you post."
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