What should you do if you see a threat on social media?

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office urges people to notify law enforcement immediately

By Garrett Pelican - Digital executive producer, Carianne Luter - Social Media Producer

A social media post making its rounds online has students and parents on edge. (Photo: Submitted)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Schools across the country have been on edge as they deal with dozens of threats warning of weapons or armed people on campus in the wake of last week's deadly mass shooting targeting Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland.

The story has been no different in Northeast Florida, where a report of gunfire Tuesday at Lee High School in Jacksonville forced the campus into lockdown and drew a response from police, who gave the all-clear after learning it was a false alarm.

The hysteria continued Wednesday as viewers contacted News4Jax with reports of posts on social media warning of violence at schools across the area, from Oakleaf High School in Clay County to West Nassau High in Nassau County.

The Duval County school district alerted police to the series of threats, which they determined were not credible, according to a statement provided by a district spokesperson. The number of threats reported at area schools was not immediately available.

In light of the growing alarm, News4Jax spoke with Melissa Bujeda, spokesperson for the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office to find out exactly what concerned students and parents should do if they see a threatening post online:

  • Q: What steps should someone take if they see a threat, or what appears to be a threat, on social media? A: Regardless if it is a threat to a school, infrastructure, or a person, law enforcement needs to be contacted.  Do not wait to contact police or think someone else will.
  • Q: How does the Sheriff's Office respond to reported threats? A: Each threat is reviewed and investigated.  If it is a threat to a school or a threat in another jurisdiction, it is passed on to that police agency.
  • Q: What are the potential consequences for those who make bogus or hoax threats on social media? A: If a threat is made and investigated, you can be arrested.  One post online can change your life forever.  We take all threats made seriously.  Once a threat is made online, you can’t take it back and say you were just being funny or it was a joke.  When people screenshot the post, you lose control when it is reposted over and over.  Even if you delete it, the screenshot everyone took still exists.
  • Q: What advice do you have for people regarding social media threats? A: Reposting on social media is not reporting it to authorities, contact police so police can investigate it.

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