Your child's favorite social media app could land them with felony charges if used the wrong way

Published: Jan. 11, 2018 at 11:29 PM CST
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In the last five years, there's been 186 school shootings across the country, according to the advocacy group Everytown For Gun Safety.

So when a shooting threat from two freshmen at Permian High School came across Lieutenant Jeff Daniels’ desk Wednesday, he and his officers jumped into action.

"In today's world, when someone posts a threat like that you have to take it serious, because of the shootings and things that have happened around the nation," ECISD Police Lt. Daniels said.

Fortunately, there wasn't any real danger behind the threat that was made using the social media app Snapchat, but that doesn't mean the consequences are going away.

"There had been a threat made in the past and several kids went home because of the threat that was made on social media,” Lt. Daniels explained. “Their intentions were the same -- repost another threat and get to go home early."

These two students got out of class early all right, but instead of going home, they were taken to the Ector County Youth Detention Center and now face felony charges for making a terroristic threat.

Just because a photo can disappear on Snapchat after a few seconds that doesn't mean it's untraceable.

Nowadays police have the resources in place to find out who's posting what on social media. It's not a matter of if they'll be caught and punished, it's a matter of when.

"Social media sites now have policies in place to assist law enforcement when threats are made towards the general public, like what we had here, that help expedite the process on finding out who owns the site that it came from, or the domain that it came from,” Lt. Daniels explained. “[They] help us with the numbers, phones that it came from, IP addresses [and] things like that."

With the help of Snapchat’s legal team and the Texas Rangers, ECISD police were able to track down and have the two freshmen students in custody within six hours.

"This is not a joke, they're putting their future in jeopardy,” Lt. Daniels said. “They're going to be charged with a felony offense, which is very serious just to get a day out of school -- it is not worth it."

According to Lt. Daniels, the ECISD Police Department receives similar threats like this a couple times every year and the consequences are always the same.

In fact, he can recall several cases where students were convicted for making a terroristic threat, meaning that felony charge will be on their record for the rest of their life.

In the meantime, the two Permian students will remain in custody, waiting for their day in court.