Reporting disturbing posts you see on social media - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Reporting disturbing posts you see on social media

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MURPHYSBORO -- Peers of the Florida school shooter say there were many red flags on social media about the shooter's frame of mind.

Reporting a post through Facebook and Instagram is different than going to authorities to make them aware of what's been posted. When you report online, often the post is just hidden or removed. But if you go to authorities, you can be sure they know about it. Murphysboro Police Chief Chad Roberts says it's important to show police, and keep reporting as things get posted.  

"It's not enough to say, 'four years ago I reported he was doing this and he's kept doing it for four years.' You need to keep bringing it up," said Roberts.  

Murphysboro High School Principal Tony Wilson says a handful of times a year, he gets reports of concerning behavior on social media he needs to be aware of. Most of those tips come from other students. 

"A lot of times, we are at the mercy of what gets brought to us. So it wouldn't be uncommon for another student to come to us and say, 'hey I saw this on so and so's Instagram," said Wilson. 

He says when a student reports something on social media it remains anonymous. The school investigates by interviewing the student who posted, digging deeper into their social media and sometimes involving law enforcement, if necessary. 

Chief Roberts says when they're made aware of threatening or disturbing posts, they'll contact the proper authorities, like counselors or mental health professionals, to get that person the help they need. 

"Law enforcement can't arrest somebody until they commit a crime. We can't lock people up because of what they might do, we can only lock them up for what they have done," said Roberts. 

He encourages everyone to trust their gut. If you think something isn't right, speak up- and keep speaking up until something is done. 

Broward County Florida Sheriff Scott Israel asked lawmakers to give police more power to involuntarily have people checked out by mental health professionals, if they make graphic or disturbing posts on social media.

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