NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - The FBI recently arrested a teen for making online threat and when they raided his Ohio home, they found 15 rifles, 10 semi-automatic pistols and roughly 10,000 rounds of ammunition.
The FBI is trying to get the word out they it will take any and all online threats seriously.
It has prompted the agency to launch a local campaign geared mostly toward students.
The FBI is visiting Middle Tennessee schools and handing out stickers and bookmarks to get the message across: “Think Before You Post.”
The recent mass shootings have local FBI agents on high alert because every time one of these tragedies take place, they see an increase in fake or hoax online threats.
“People see what’s going on in the news and they think, ‘Oh, that looks like a great idea,’ and it absolutely is not a good idea,” said Kevin Varpness, who oversees the FBI’s cyber and counter intelligence squad in Nashville.
In many cases kids are just venting or joking around, but the FBI takes all threats seriously.
The agency pours tons of resources into investigating threatening posts on social media, and when they catch those responsible, the consequences are serious.
“It can be up to five years in prison. If someone is injured due to the response to the threat, that can be up to 20 years in prison,” said Varpness.
FBI agents have been out speaking to students warning them to “Think Before They Post.”
“No one should ever post a threat online, and if someone sees a threat online, they need to contact law enforcement immediately,” said Varpness.
The FBI is also encouraging parents to take action.
“Parents, talk to your children about responsible use of social media. Talk to them about healthy ways to deal with stress, and healthy ways to deal with their emotions,” said Varpness. “That’s where everything starts is parents talking to their children and getting children the help and the assistance that they need.”
FBI agents said if you see a threat on social media, report it, but don’t share or forward it until law enforcement has had the chance to investigate. Sharing before the investigation is complete can spread misinformation and cause panic.