After the February 2018 Parkland school shooting in Florida, it came out that the alleged shooter, Nikolas Cruz, may have left a comment on a YouTube video, stating, “Im [sic] going to be a professional school shooter.” The owner of the channel, bail bondsman, Ben Bennight, screenshotted and flagged the comment to YouTube, who removed the comment. He then contacted the FBI via email and also left a voicemail at his local FBI field office, alerting them to the comment. Mr. Bennight was interviewed by FBI field agents the next day, and again the day of the school shooting in Florida.
What should you do, if you get a similar comment?
- First and foremost, do NOT engage with the commenter.
- Screenshot the comment, and if possible, grab URLs/usernames for the commenter’s channels.
- Report the comment to the social media network: Here for Youtube, here for Instagram, here for Twitter, here for Facebook)
- Report the comment to your local FBI field office and to email@example.com, or at this online form at tips.fbi.gov.
- If the commenter directly threatened you and/or your family, contact your local police force as well.
No matter what the commenter’s actual intent was, you should never brush it off and ignore it. It may be a cry for help or attention, or it may be an indication of something much, much more serious.
As always, be sure to protect your online privacy – we’ve got a full list of tips on that here, but you should never share your actual address, phone number, or email address on social media.