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Are Facebook Threats Illegal?

In this day of constant online communications, chat rooms, texting, and other forms of digital communications, there seems to be a false  thought process out there that it is ok to make threats online as long as you are doing it anonymously.  For example, recently, 4 students were arrested in Florida after the exchanged Facebook messages discussing the possible killing of a person they believed to be a snitch.  All four girls, 3 fourteen year olds and 1 thirteen year old was charged with aggravated stalking, which is a felony offense.

Make little mistake about it.  When you threaten someone, on Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, or any other type of social networking site, it can be considered to be a serious crime by either local police or possibly even the FBI (depending upon the nature of the threat).

In an attempt to get around this issue, people will create new accounts on Facebook or other sites using email addresses signed up for at gmail, yahoo, or similar.  They even may go so far as to do all their posting while using a fictitious IP address in an attempt to mask their identity.

If you really get down to it, what these people are doing, kids and adults alike, is playing a game of Russian Roulette:  Essentially they are creating a felony crime but are “betting on” not being caught. It is true that it is very difficult to arrest someone that you cannot positively identify.  However, both law enforcement and even private investigators such as ourselves have some very powerful tools to identify posters even if hiding behind the cloak of anonymity.  This truly is a very dangerous game they are playing.

So if you are the victim of online attacks, such as a Facebook threat, what should you do?  Here is a few simple ideas for you that can truly help.

1)  Is It Physically Threatening?  If so, and you believe the threat to be credible, our immediate suggestion is to contact your law enforcement agency.  One think that can make their job easier is to compile any information you have about who is behind this attack.  While you “may know” who is doing this, law enforcement has to operate off of prove.  If there is any information that can provide that well help then prove who is doing this, then it greatly will speed up their ability to assist you.

2)  Can Law Enforcement Not Help You?  Depending upon the nature of the attack, then law enforcement may not be able to help.  For example, if you are being severely defamed online but not really threatened, there is probably very little that the authorities will be able to do to help you.  In this case, this maybe a point where you need to call a Cyber investigation group such as ReputationDefenseOnline to track down the attacker and provide the necessary evidence to assist either law enforcement or your legal team.

No matter how you look at it, Facebook threats and other online attacks are a terrible thing and should be avoided at all costs.