HOUSTON — FBI Houston took to Twitter this weekend to remind students to think before they post anything to social media.
The agency even created the hashtag #ThinkBeforeYouPost. They're reminding everyone that making threats, be it a hoax or not, is no joke.
"Unfortunately, at the beginning of the school year, we’re going to see an increase in these types of threats, for whatever reason,” said FBI Houston spokesperson Christina Garza.
Issuing a threat via social media, text message, email or similar means is a federal crime. Penalties include possible prison time in addition to state and local charges. That's not including discipline any district may hand down if it involves threats against a school.
"Needless to say, if you think it’s a joke, law enforcement does not think it’s a joke," Garza said. "And there are serious consequences whether you had the intent to carry out that threat or not.”
The FBI produced a public service announcement featuring a young man convicted of making a threat he thought was funny. Now he’s part of the agency’s attempt to prevent similar incidents like one KHOU 11 covered in Katy when a student posted a Snapchat photo featuring a fake gun.
The student even included an “lol," but no one was laughing.
"Don’t post anything that you shouldn’t post,” said Houston parent Sheretta Sigers.
Sigers said she sets parameters for her 12-year-old son and suggests others do the same for their children before they have a chance to get in trouble.
"Keep them off Facebook, Snapchat, all of the other socials," Sigers said. "Monitor their pages if they are on there.”
The FBI encourages anyone who spots a threat, whether or not it seems legitimate, to report it immediately.
"We take those very seriously, and there are very serious consequences if you do make those threats,” Garza said.
Learn more about the FBI's #ThinkBeforeYouPost campaign here.
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