Digital Threat Assessment Toolkit
Digital Evidence

6.2 Guidelines for Assessing Online Threats

This section outlines the basic actions to take when evaluating a threat. Consider the following examples:

online threat

When digital threats, such as the examples above, are reported, take the following steps:

  • Activate threat assessment team and inform law enforcement.
  • Document and record threat (save photos, videos, or posts; this is covered in Section 7).
  • Verify text and images:
    • For text, search with Google using quotations to check for copycat language.
    • For images, conduct a reverse image search and metadata check. (Metadata is covered in more detail in Section 8.2; Reverse Image Search is covered in more detail in Section 9.)
  • Identify others who need to be considered or interviewed.
  • Determine if the threat is specific and/or plausible.
  • Evaluate whether the threat maker has access to the means to carry out the threat.
  • Investigate whether the threat maker has engaged in behaviors that are consistent with the threat.
  • Cross reference usernames:
    • Search for exact usernames within Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube.
    • Search for usernames with Google.
  • Search using Google for full legal name using quotations:
    • Example: “John Michael Smith.”
    • Do the same for the student’s given name and any nickname(s).

Just as with any threat assessment inquiry, it is critical to document your findings. The Digital Behavioral Baseline Template below may be a helpful tool.

Digital Behavioral Baseline Template