Local colleges and law enforcement combat online media threats

2 years 6 months 2 weeks ago Wednesday, December 02 2015 Dec 2, 2015 Wednesday, December 02, 2015 10:29:00 AM CST December 02, 2015 in News
By: Taylor Reid, KOMU 8 Reporter

COLUMBIA - While most social networks are designed as a medium for people to converse and share information, they also provide another avenue for individuals to stir up something sinister. Threats of violence are an unfortunate but very real existence in communities across the globe. Colleges in Columbia work with local law enforcement to combat the issue of online social media threats.

Columbia Assistant Prosecutor Brouck Jacobs said that a common misconception people have on social media is that if they post on a site anonymously their true identity cannot be revealed. 

“People think that there’s a veneer of anonymity to a lot of these websites and making postings like with YikYak but it’s really not anonymous,” Jacobs said.

Although numerous sites allow users to post anonymously, when threats are made or someone is a victim of harassment, anonymity can easily be unveiled by authorities.

“The police will apply for a search warrant, get the internet service provider and figure out the IP address and who owns the computer that transmitted that threat,” Jacobs said.

 Although authorities are equipped to handle these situations, the legal process relies heavily on a strong relationship and communication between schools and law enforcement.

“If it’s a university case the university police department refers the charges to our office and if we believe a crime is committed then we file charges,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs said that some people believe in order to charge a person with harassment or offenses against public order that authorities must prove the person was going to follow through with the crime or threat.

“We only have to prove that people are alarmed by the threat,” Jacobs said.

In order to be charged with a crime, the prosecutor takes the police reports and if they believe a crime was committed they charge the crime based on the facts.

Adjunct MU Law Professor Sandra Davidson said that just like with many other crimes, intent must be proven. However, this can be done in part if a reasonable person recognizes the threat as real.

“To have intent the [Supreme Court] is saying that if you have knowledge that what you have done would be perceived as a threat, that is enough to constitute intent,” Davidson said.

Davidson said that sometimes people think intent is an abnormal condition or difficult to gather evidence for.

“Intent is a requirement of a lot of crimes, not some mystical something that is hard to prove in court,” Davidson said.

The University of Missouri, Stephens College and Columbia College all have similar social media policies for students on their campuses.

Columbia College's policy is to accept the majority of comments made to their profile but also will intervene or take action when necessary.

Columbia College’s social media policy states that it “reserves the right to take action when deemed necessary. delete communications that contain profanity or vulgarity; defame a person, groups of people or an organization; promotes a product or service; is deemed offensive or inappropriate in nature by our social media team.”

Stephens College’s security director said that the level of action taken against online threats varies case by case depending on the circumstance. Ultimately it depends on the nature of the threat and whether it’s online or in another form.

While colleges work to pacify these issues, after recent terror threats at MU some students think more can be done.

“I feel more comfort in my professors and my experiences with them than the administration,” MU student Kristen Jones said. “I feel like the professors are more aware and show their concern more.”

Jones said that this in part could be because students do not know the faces of MU’s administration or know who to go to when these issues arise.

MU masters student Sean Joy said that the university could have reacted more quickly but that situations like these are a learning process.

“Administration throughout campus, regardless of the department, can work to reach out to our students and make sure that they are safe, doing well and using resources we have on our campus in order to feel safe and feel protected on our university,” Joy said.

Overall, many colleges in Columbia have policies in place and work with authorities to keep social media sites safe for all students. 

More News

Grid
List
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump announced Monday he is directing the Pentagon to create a new "Space Force" as... More >>
3 hours ago Monday, June 18 2018 Jun 18, 2018 Monday, June 18, 2018 7:08:00 PM CDT June 18, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri democrats want Governor Mike Parson fire his chief operating officer and cancel a contract awarded to... More >>
3 hours ago Monday, June 18 2018 Jun 18, 2018 Monday, June 18, 2018 6:49:00 PM CDT June 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Mid-Missouri air conditioning companies are facing the busiest time of year amid a four-day heat advisory. Craig... More >>
4 hours ago Monday, June 18 2018 Jun 18, 2018 Monday, June 18, 2018 5:16:00 PM CDT June 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA – The attorney representing the security guard who shot Anthony Warren at a Waffle House on New Year's Day... More >>
7 hours ago Monday, June 18 2018 Jun 18, 2018 Monday, June 18, 2018 3:12:00 PM CDT June 18, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The 600 block of Monroe Street will be closed until Friday. Construction crews are removing a retaining... More >>
7 hours ago Monday, June 18 2018 Jun 18, 2018 Monday, June 18, 2018 2:20:00 PM CDT June 18, 2018 in News
BOONE COUNTY - A death, a huge cache of weapons and a suspect whose gun jammed as he was aiming... More >>
7 hours ago Monday, June 18 2018 Jun 18, 2018 Monday, June 18, 2018 2:17:00 PM CDT June 18, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Gov. Mike Parson appointed state Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe to be the new lieutenant... More >>
8 hours ago Monday, June 18 2018 Jun 18, 2018 Monday, June 18, 2018 1:15:00 PM CDT June 18, 2018 in News
BOONVILLE - Jesse Viertel Memorial Airport may reach new heights after the city council accepted a bid and authorized a... More >>
9 hours ago Monday, June 18 2018 Jun 18, 2018 Monday, June 18, 2018 12:42:00 PM CDT June 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - City public works crews will be repairing a road buckle on Providence Road between Blue Ridge Road and... More >>
10 hours ago Monday, June 18 2018 Jun 18, 2018 Monday, June 18, 2018 11:39:00 AM CDT June 18, 2018 in News
BALLWIN (AP) — Another bear sighting has people concerned in part of Missouri, but this time, it's deep into... More >>
12 hours ago Monday, June 18 2018 Jun 18, 2018 Monday, June 18, 2018 9:45:39 AM CDT June 18, 2018 in News
BOONE COUNTY – The Katy Trail will see more bike traffic than usual this week with the 2018 Katy Trail... More >>
14 hours ago Monday, June 18 2018 Jun 18, 2018 Monday, June 18, 2018 7:33:00 AM CDT June 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia is under a heat advisory until Monday evening. The National Weather Service issued the advisory on... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, June 17 2018 Jun 17, 2018 Sunday, June 17, 2018 9:29:00 PM CDT June 17, 2018 in News
FULTON - Forty people with disabilities will learn how to ride a two-wheel bicycle at the iCan Bike camp this... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, June 17 2018 Jun 17, 2018 Sunday, June 17, 2018 9:18:00 PM CDT June 17, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Missouri is the first and only state to define "meat" as exclusively animal product. The Missouri General... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, June 17 2018 Jun 17, 2018 Sunday, June 17, 2018 4:55:00 PM CDT June 17, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The city will discuss the results of the 2017 Community Survey at Monday's city council meeting. Used... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, June 17 2018 Jun 17, 2018 Sunday, June 17, 2018 4:06:00 PM CDT June 17, 2018 in News
ROCHEPORT - The Sunny Oaks Charity Horse Show brought about 20 riders out Sunday afternoon to compete for ribbons and... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, June 17 2018 Jun 17, 2018 Sunday, June 17, 2018 3:36:00 PM CDT June 17, 2018 in News
SPRINGFIELD - A Hickman High School graduate has surrounded herself with Kewpies. The dolls' trademark round eyes watch happily from... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, June 17 2018 Jun 17, 2018 Sunday, June 17, 2018 8:05:00 AM CDT June 17, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Hundreds of people impacted by cancer gathered together on a track Saturday in support of cancer fighters and... More >>
2 days ago Saturday, June 16 2018 Jun 16, 2018 Saturday, June 16, 2018 10:11:00 PM CDT June 16, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 81°
11pm 82°
12am 80°
1am 80°
2am 79°