Social media threats make headlines, experts warn of consequences

A recent incident involving the threat of a bombing and shooting at a
Lebanon County middle school has experts warning of the consequences.

It happened in the Northern Lebanon School District this past week. The building was evacuated; police searched the school and found nothing.

We spoke with Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico regarding the potential punishment for such an act; he is not connected to this case.

“If someone makes a threat, whether verbally as we've always seen or nowadays on social media, they're going to be charged with the crime of making terroristic threats, which is a misdemeanor in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Marsico said.

The penalty depends on the case, but it can carry a maximum of two years behind bars.

Harrisburg University Professor Chuck Davis weighed in, saying youngsters need to be reminded of the lasting consequences social media posts can have.

“It's as public as posting something in the newspaper, taking out an ad in the newspaper,” Davis said. He added, “You can't joke about a bomb in social media, you can't slip a note under the door at the school or pull the fire alarm. It's not funny.”

Davis said if schools have not done it already, it would be a good idea to teach social media practices in class.

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