With all of the research our company has performed on social media threats, including how they spread like wildfire, it becomes clear that people can unknowingly cause massive damage by doing something as simple and innocent as sharing potential threats with hopes of them being seen by the appropriate authorities whether they be law enforcement agencies or social networking companies themselves. But in reality, such does more harm than good.
When you really think about it, sharing a threatening message is in essence adding fuel to the fire and serves as a force multiplier, which is exactly what those making threats want: attention. The more threats are shared, the more attention they get, and the higher probability of them go viral.
This scenario repeats itself and reared its ugly face yet again when Delta Air Lines received threats via Twitter a few weeks ago. More information on that particular incident can be found in an article on our blog, titled “Social Media Threats Take Airline Industry By Storm.”
Aside from exponentially harming the situation by sharing threats, flooding social networks with retweets or other forms of sharing (reposting on Instagram, etc.) hinders the effectiveness of monitoring efforts. For example, if our company is monitoring social media threats for a large shopping mall and we identify a questionable tweet then within 30-minutes over 1,000 people have retweeted it, our ability to effectively track those that are actually a threat becomes more difficult.
The moral of the story: If you see threatening or even questionable posts on social networks, do not share them. Depending on the nature of the posts, they should be reported directly to law enforcement agencies, social networks, or in-house security teams for those that were targeted.