FBI Relaunches Public Awareness Campaign #ThinkBeforeYouPost
DENVER—The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Denver Division has relaunched a public awareness campaign to educate the public about the consequences of making threats and reminding community members hoax threats are not a joke.
In the aftermath of tragic shootings which continue to plague our nation, law enforcement agencies around the country often see an increase in threats made to schools and other public buildings. Even making a reference to conducting a mass shooting, “jokingly,” is being taken seriously and tying up valuable law enforcement resources that could be diverted during an actual threat. These threats can also result in lockdowns and traumatic school security events for students, and it can waste taxpayers’ money.
Federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies follow up on numerous tips to analyze and investigate these threats to determine their credibility. When an investigation concludes there was a false or hoax threat made to a school, or another public place, federal charges will be considered, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. If a federal charge is not warranted, state or local charges can be considered. Schools are also taking these matters seriously, and expulsions have occurred following many cases where a student made a threat, a hoax threat, or even jokingly referred to mass shootings. Making reference to threats in social media, where many people believe their posts are private, can destroy a young person’s future.
“We want to ensure the public understands making threats online, even those you had no intention of carrying out, can result in arrests and even prison sentences at the state or federal level. It is not a joke,” said Dean Phillips, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Denver Division.
Public assistance is crucial to our efforts to curb these hoax threats. We ask the public continue to contact law enforcement to report any potential threats or suspicious activity. If there is any reason to believe the safety of others is at risk, we ask that the public immediately reach out to their local police department by calling 911, or contact the FBI via tips.fbi.gov or over the phone (1-800-CALL-FBI). As always, members of the public can call the FBI Denver Division at (303) 629-7171 to report a tip.
Law enforcement officers spend countless hours investigating threats to determine their credibility. Schools lose precious learning time responding to these threats. And most importantly, a young person can ruin their future by making a hoax school threat. #ThinkBeforeYouPost—early intervention can prevent a situation from escalating. Remember, if you see something, say something.
What Should You Do to Help?
- Don’t ever post or send any hoax threats...period.
- If you are a target of an online threat, alert your local law enforcement immediately.
- If you see a threat of violence posted on social media, immediately contact local law enforcement or your local FBI office.
- Notify authorities, but don’t share or forward the threat until law enforcement has had a chance to investigate—this can spread misinformation and cause panic.
- If you are a parent or family member, know that some young people post these threats online as a cry for attention or as a way to get revenge or exert control. Talk to your child about the proper outlet for their stress or other emotions and explain the importance of responsible social media use and the consequences of posting hoax threats.
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