As gunmen have increasingly stormed churches, schools, universities, restaurants—basically any public or private place to incite terror or cause mayhem—authorities have taken threats more seriously as they have in the past. We recently watched the aftermath of the STEM school shooting in Highland Park, Colorado where one student was killed and another eight were injured. In Parkland, Florida 17 people lost their lives at Stoneman Douglas High School.
In Charleston, South Carolina, nine churchgoers were murdered at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. At the Route 91 Harvest Music Festival in Las Vegas, thousands of people ran for their lives as bullets rang out, killing 58 people. In our social media-driven culture, people hop online to share what’s happening in real-time in the midst of terror. Investigators across the country stay alerted to all potential threats shared on social media, however, a recent series of tweets has caused the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department to issue a public service announcement about using certain words.
On their official Twitter account, the LASD shared a screenshot of a tweet they came across. “There’s an active shooter in the lakewood ymca,” a person tweeted. “Active shooter in the building!!!!!!” read a followup tweet with an image of a person standing in the middle of an indoor court. The “active shooter” the person was referring to was a person shooting basketballs.
The LASD included this message with the screenshot: “If your kids use social media talk to them about sensitive words. #LASD recently responded to a local youth facility after a post & several phone calls. Each and every potential threat is investigated & taken seriously. This was intended as a basketball post. #MondayMorning.” A commenter told the LASD to “Let the man hoop” to which they replied, “We did, after making sure everyone was SAFE.. he could have used ballin, shooting hoops, brick … but first tweet drew some attention.”