Local colleges and law enforcement combat online media threats

2 years 9 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
CALLAWAY COUNTY - Jeff Jones is living just a quarter of a mile away from a future Controlled Animal Feeding... More >>
2 hours ago Tuesday, September 18 2018 Sep 18, 2018 Tuesday, September 18, 2018 8:26:00 PM CDT September 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Assistant City Counselor Jose Caldera announced the city and Bird are talking about short-term rules regulating the rental... More >>
3 hours ago Tuesday, September 18 2018 Sep 18, 2018 Tuesday, September 18, 2018 7:25:00 PM CDT September 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Missouri Task Force One continues rescuing people, checking on others and sheltering those in need in the wake... More >>
3 hours ago Tuesday, September 18 2018 Sep 18, 2018 Tuesday, September 18, 2018 6:48:00 PM CDT September 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - After volunteering at a detention center for women and children seeking asylum in the U.S., one Jefferson City... More >>
5 hours ago Tuesday, September 18 2018 Sep 18, 2018 Tuesday, September 18, 2018 5:20:00 PM CDT September 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - A teenager pleaded guilty Monday in connection with a deadly 2016 shooting on Claudell Lane. Navarro Scott,... More >>
6 hours ago Tuesday, September 18 2018 Sep 18, 2018 Tuesday, September 18, 2018 3:35:11 PM CDT September 18, 2018 in News
SUNRISE BEACH - Fire Chief Dennis Reilly announced his resignation due to harassment from a board member. Reilly said... More >>
7 hours ago Tuesday, September 18 2018 Sep 18, 2018 Tuesday, September 18, 2018 3:23:00 PM CDT September 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - City employees are getting a raise in this year's budget, but some say it's not enough for line... More >>
7 hours ago Tuesday, September 18 2018 Sep 18, 2018 Tuesday, September 18, 2018 3:13:00 PM CDT September 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - A lawn care app launched in Columbia to connect consumers with people who want to make extra money... More >>
8 hours ago Tuesday, September 18 2018 Sep 18, 2018 Tuesday, September 18, 2018 2:16:00 PM CDT September 18, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The Jefferson City Police Department is set to receive nine brand new police vehicles in the next... More >>
8 hours ago Tuesday, September 18 2018 Sep 18, 2018 Tuesday, September 18, 2018 1:56:00 PM CDT September 18, 2018 in News
MACON - Deputies are investigating after a member of the Missouri National Guard was shot at a training site near... More >>
8 hours ago Tuesday, September 18 2018 Sep 18, 2018 Tuesday, September 18, 2018 1:40:00 PM CDT September 18, 2018 in News
(CNN Money) -- Facebook's ad targeting system is being used by some employers to unlawfully discriminate based on gender, a... More >>
11 hours ago Tuesday, September 18 2018 Sep 18, 2018 Tuesday, September 18, 2018 11:06:05 AM CDT September 18, 2018 in News
NEOSHO (AP) — A southwest Missouri man has pleaded guilty to shooting at a sheriff's deputy during a chase. ... More >>
11 hours ago Tuesday, September 18 2018 Sep 18, 2018 Tuesday, September 18, 2018 10:41:00 AM CDT September 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - A woman has been arrested on suspicion of abuse or neglect of a 4-year-old child. Police arrested... More >>
12 hours ago Tuesday, September 18 2018 Sep 18, 2018 Tuesday, September 18, 2018 10:11:00 AM CDT September 18, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - A more than 25-year-old park shelter and playground could say goodbye soon. The replacement of those two... More >>
14 hours ago Tuesday, September 18 2018 Sep 18, 2018 Tuesday, September 18, 2018 7:52:00 AM CDT September 18, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - The Jefferson City Council approved the 2019 fiscal year budget Monday for $32,807,390.05. Mayor Carrie Tergin... More >>
1 day ago Monday, September 17 2018 Sep 17, 2018 Monday, September 17, 2018 10:13:00 PM CDT September 17, 2018 in News
FULTON - The Fulton Police Department arrested five people Monday for stealing from a Hibbett Sports store in Fulton. ... More >>
1 day ago Monday, September 17 2018 Sep 17, 2018 Monday, September 17, 2018 9:49:00 PM CDT September 17, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- President Donald Trump on Monday ordered the declassification of various documents and text messages related to the Russia... More >>
1 day ago Monday, September 17 2018 Sep 17, 2018 Monday, September 17, 2018 5:46:00 PM CDT September 17, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a public hearing on the allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh... More >>
1 day ago Monday, September 17 2018 Sep 17, 2018 Monday, September 17, 2018 5:40:19 PM CDT September 17, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 73°
11pm 74°
12am 75°
1am 74°
2am 73°