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FBI Warns Students: Think Before You Post

CMS Chief of Police Lisa Mangum, center, is flanked by an FBI special agent and other police chiefs to announce a new campaign to stop hoax threats.
Gwendolyn Glenn
CMS Chief of Police Lisa Mangum, center, is flanked by an FBI special agent and other police chiefs to announce a new campaign to stop hoax threats.

FBI officials launched the "Think Before You Post" campaign at a Charlotte-Mecklenburg School today. It’s a national effort to inform the public about the consequences of posting fake threats against people and facilities. Here, the focus is on students.

Lisa Mangum, CMS’ police chief, says when compared to previous years, the number of cases they investigated of students making threats against students, school officials and school buildings has increased.

Credit Gwendolyn Glenn
CMS Chief of Police Lisa Mangum says student hoax threats have increased.

“In most of these investigations that we conducted , they were not credible threats. However, we did make many charges; probably every single case, and we will continue to do that,” Mangum said.

Flanked by CMPD Chief Kerr Putney, chiefs from surrounding jurisdictions and an FBI special agent, Mangum said whether real or a hoax, threats cause major disruptions in schools and unnecessary fear among students, staff and parents.

Putney said a lot of the threats are being made by students on social media, in text messages and through email. He said some of the threats are made out of anger against a schoolmate, as jokes or as pranks to get out of school. But Putney says CMPD takes all of the threats seriously and will not hesitate to punish guilty parties.

Credit Gwendolyn Glenn
Kerr Putney, CMPD Chief, says students who post hoax threats on social media, in text messages and emails will be charged.

“We’re going to investigate, we’re going to charge and, through the district attorney, we’re going to prosecute those found guilty of posting threats through social media,” Putney said.

Special Agent Jason Kaplan says the FBI will work closely with school officials in taking a tough stance on violators. He says would-be pranksters and others need to know that there are real consequences to posting threats.

"Posting threats is not a joke,” Kaplan said. “Threats including hoax threats made on social media or other Internet platforms can be considered federal crimes and are also state crimes. Many of them can result in up to five years in prison per instance of threat. Law enforcement takes this seriously.”

Credit Gwendolyn Glenn
FBI Special Agent Jason Kaplan launches the bureau's "Think Before You Post" Campaign at a Charlotte-Mecklenburg school to focus on hoax threats posted by students through social media.

Kaplan says although most students arrested for hoax threats are remorseful, their actions will result in a criminal record that will most likely follow them the rest of their lives—which is why they ask students to "Think Before You Post."