Social media can be so arresting: Threats on Tumblr, Yik Yak lead to trouble

This week, a couple of contributions to the “Social Media Can Get You Arrested” folder, which keeps getting fatter.

Federal authorities arrested on Thursday a man from Ohio who’s an apparent fan of the Islamic State after he allegedly reblogged on Tumblr a GIF calling for attacking U.S. soldiers. Terrence McNeil, 25, was charged with solicitation of a crime of violence. The GIF cycled through photos and names and addresses of purported military personnel, with the final image showing a handgun and a knife with text that reads “…and kill them wherever you find them,” according to a press release by the Justice Department.

According to the Daily Beast, George Washington University’s Program on Extremism has been tracking McNeil’s social media for months, including his Twitter and Facebook accounts. On Twitter, he cited freedom of speech as a reason he hadn’t been arrested for “the things I post on Tumblr.”

“While we aggressively defend First Amendment rights, the individual arrested went far beyond free speech by reposting names and addresses of 100 U.S. service members, all with the intent to have them killed,” FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen Anthony said in the press release.

Also this week, a couple of college students were arrested on suspicion of making threats to black college students at the University of Missouri, the site of racial tensions and protests. The men, Connor Stottlemyre and Hunter Park, both 19, were arrested separately. They’re accused of writing threats on Yik Yak, a supposedly anonymous social media service that’s popular on college campuses. Park reportedly posted that he would “shoot every black person I see.”

Yik Yak users can’t see who’s posting what, but what the service doesn’t do is keep user info from the police if they ask for it — sometimes without a court order. As the Associated Press notes, this isn’t the first time police have arrested people who have made threats of violence on college campuses via Yik Yak.

 

Above: Screenshot from Yik Yak

 

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  • Andrew Sabin Novato

    Think before you post.

    Andrew Sabin Novato

 
 
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