From the death threat posted on Instagram targeting Rihanna to threats against the BBC’s replacement for Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear and now Clippers star Chris Paul comes under fire, social media threats aimed at celebrities of all types are spiraling out of control.
According to the Los Angeles Times, “Following a Los Angeles Clippers’ loss in early February, one Twitter user allegedly threatened to kill Paul’s wife, Jada Crawley, and frame Paul for the crime. The social media message sparked concern among security experts who work with the team and the episode was reported to the LAPD’s threat management unit, according to a law enforcement official.”
The tweet read: “@CP3 if I knew where you lived I’d probably kill your wife and frame you for it. I watch dateline I get away with it.”
As social media becomes more prolific by the day, increasingly integrating itself into all facets of life, social media threats like this are going to continue to rear their ugly heads. Additionally, similar to how mass shootings inspire copycat attacks, the more people see the impact of posting threats on social media the more will be posted to wreak havoc or as a sign of impending harm.
In an article on mass shootings by NBC News, Andre Simons of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit stated: “The copycat phenomenon is real.” He went on to add: “As more and more notable and tragic events occur, we think we’re seeing more compromised, marginalized individuals who are seeking inspiration from those past attacks.” The same applies to social media threats and the results they produce.
The point is, as technology evolves and social media innovations continue, the foundation is already in place – potential threat actors have roadmaps to follow to perform copycat assaults. Social media threats are unfortunately here to stay.
Moving forward, it’s important for local and federal law enforcement agencies as well as corporate/private security teams to better understand threats of this type and have the right tools to identify, assess and even counter threats on social media. The future is clear, but for many the approach is not though it needs to be.