When I think back to social media in its infancy I recall a positive environment that broadened horizons and cemented relationships. Of course there were a few inherent trolls sprinkled about, but all in all social media was a positive, safe corner of the universe. Unfortunately that is not the case anymore.
In the past two years the number of threats posted on social networks has skyrocketed with everyone from celebrities and politicians to multinational corporations like Sony being targeted. Initially most social media threats were false alarms, however recent events highlight just how serious they really are.
What is alarming is how we have to not only worry about social media threats posted by lone wolves, such as Ismaaiyl Brinsley who killed two NYPD officers on December 20, 2014, but also copy cats that gain inspiration from horrific crimes.
Since Ismaaiyl Brinsley posted his initial threats on Instagram saying he is going to “put wings on pigs” accompanied by the hashtag #shootthepolice, and subsequently carried out such threats, the NYPD has investigated over 12 copy cat threats and has arrested at least four people, according to an article from CBS News.
One deranged individual’s use of social media while committing a heinous crime has ultimately resulted in a snowball effect with social media being the driving force behind other crimes that instill fear, suck resources, and cost taxpayers a considerable amount of money.
Social media threats will continue to increase over time, so it’s imperative for law enforcement agencies, private security firms, and individuals and organizations around the world to stay vigilant. Harness the power of social media to proactively identify potential threats before harm can be done.