While researching hundreds of social media threats over the past two years we’ve found two types of threats that are worth discussing: direct and indirect.
Direct threats are those that actually engage the victims and are more likely to be seen within a short period of time. For example, a tweet that mentions a victim’s Twitter account/name will notify them of such a mention whereas one that does not needs to be picked up based on the words used within the tweet (i.e. I am going to kill John Doe) and other factors. In a sense, direct threats are less harmful because they can be identified relatively easily then investigated.
On the other hand, indirect threats are difficult to identify and are what worry law enforcement agencies and private security firms the most. It’s literally like finding a needle in a haystack and requires a trained eye as well as purpose-built tools to analyze large amounts of data.
Whether one’s facing direct threats or indirect threats, all should be taken seriously. History shows that not all threats voiced on social networks are merely talk, and many have led to catastrophes.