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Why security should monitor social media to prevent violence

David Geer | Feb. 19, 2014
Behaviour on social media can offer clues to potential threats of violence against an organisation and its employees. Here are some tips for why and how security managers can keep an eye on social media to mitigate future problems.

Similar to how typical social media management governs outbound content, the enterprise can monitor inbound content, according to Goldberg. Applications such as Bottlenose and SocialMention also use search-based filtering techniques to monitor social media and are useful for spotting threats of violence. Google and Google Alerts are also useful for social media monitoring.

In addition to watching the company's brand name, the name of the corporation and trademarks and slogans, the enterprise can automate alerts that include executive and employee names and words and phrases commonly used in threats.

Enterprises should prepare individual executives and employees to catch instances of social media-based threats by training them so they can recognize potentially serious threats and respond accordingly. It's important to have a clear triage of actions based on company policy that every employee can follow in relation to social platforms, according to Goldberg. The policies should provide examples of threats that people could make and carry out along with examples of what to do about it.

Threat assessment
"Public Safety should always be the first contact for threats of violence," says Devlin. Upon the appearance of threats of violence on social media, public safety, public relations, legal, executive management and law enforcement need to work together to assess the threat. The enterprise needs a well-established plan to facilitate this. Threat assessment needs to be a collaborative effort that starts with the public safety organization and closely coordinates with information security, HR and the office of general counsel.

"The threat assessment team has to determine whether this is someone acting up or there is some legitimacy to the threat," says Devlin. Get the IT department to look at where it came from since the source of the threat will clue the enterprise into other factors for threat assessment. To determine how genuine it is, get public safety involved. They would potentially get law enforcement involved.

Ensuring physical safety is the highest priority, stopping further threats is next, and thereafter is the determination of whether or not someone is breaking a law or policy, and with that the potential for prosecution or HR action. "An after action review should follow that to see whether the whole thing could have been prevented," says Devlin.

Enlist legal expertise
Any threats of physical violence are easier to deal with from a legal standpoint than other types of threats, according to Tomas M. Flores, Esq., Attorney. "You have a civil injunction for the individual if you can identify them, and if the threat is sufficient enough, that is now a criminal matter and you should bring it to the attention of your local police or prosecutor," says Flores.


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