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Social Media Posts Can Be Warning Signs To Prevent Real Time Threats Before They Become Tragedies; Feds Must Do More To Increase Awareness Of Those Using Social Media To Prevent Potential Attacks

Current Law Does Not Specify A Tip Generated By Social Media As Eligible For Cash Reward; Schumer Wants Rewards For Social Media Tips To Be Written Into Law & Better Publicized   ‎

Schumer: Public Should Be Encouraged To Say Something If They See Something, Especially On Their Newsfeed

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today unveiled new legislation that would provide a minimum $25,000 cash reward for any social media tip that helps law enforcement thwart terror attacks in the United States. Schumer explained that federal law enforcement continues to express major concerns with how ISIS has galvanized support using social media. Terrorists abroad cannot easily get to America but they are adept at using the internet to reach Americans, Schumer pointed out.

“There is no doubt about it, ISIS actively uses social media as one of their main weapons,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. ““We are in a time when a terrorist a world away can corrupt a disaffected youth— and with just a few posts or tweets, can push them to plan or carry out acts of terror. We need the public’s eyes to alert authorities if they see someone they know writing things they know spell trouble. And we need to offer a minimum reward for this information if it actually does prevent an attack.”

Schumer added, ”Just like we encourage the public to say something if they see something on the street or in the subways, the social media public should also be encouraged to say something if they see something, especially on their newsfeed. With ISIS using social media to recruit and plan terror attacks reaching disaffected lone wolves, the feds must do more to increase the number of public eyes on social media to prevent attacks. I am unveiling new legislation that will offer a minimum $25,000  cash reward for any social media tip that leads to the arrest of someone planning a terror attack here in the U.S.. Social media posts can be warning signs to prevent real time threats before they become tragedies and the feds should incentivize the public to report online signs of terror.”

Schumer also said that both the Rochester, New York arrest of an ISIS recruiter and the San Bernardino Terror attack suggest that social media is playing a direct role in how terrorists inspire and coordinate attacks. Therefore, Schumer says, social media posts can be good warning signs when it comes to better preventing real time attacks before they become tragedies.

Current law does not specify a tip generated by social media —like one from a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram post ---is eligible for a cash reward. Schumer’s legislation would require the Secretary of State offer cash rewards for terrorism-related social media tips that lead to an arrest or conviction of an act of terror and ensure that these rewards are better publicized to the public.  

Following the San Bernardino attack, authorities found that one of the terrorists had expressed her supported for violent jihad via private Facebook messages. In addition, three men were arrested following a failed attempt to join ISIS in Syria. The arrests were made following public posts on an Uzbek language social media site about pledging their allegiance to ISIS and wanting to kill the President of the United States. In December, Rochester, New York pizza shop owner pleaded guilty to using multiple social media sites to recruit for ISIS, including Facebook. The suspect utilized 23 different Facebook accounts to “seek donations and declare his support for violent jihad and allegiance to the Islamic State and its leaders.”

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Reward for Justice program currently allows the Secretary of State to authorize rewards for information that leads to the arrest or conviction of anyone who plans, commits, or attempts international terrorist acts against U.S. persons or property, that prevents such acts from occurring in the first place, that leads to the location of a key terrorist leader, or that disrupts terrorism financing. Schumer explained that the current program does not expressly say that a social media tip as eligible. Schumer also said there is no minimum reward stipulated and not enough effort to publicize the tip hotline, 1-800-US-REWARDS or the online platform for people to submit a tip online, which is Schumer wants this better publicized, a minimum reward of $25,000 guaranteed and for social media tips to be officially added to the kinds of tips eligible for cash rewards. Schumer says the hope is that the incentive will better engage the public to say something is they see something online. 

Schumer’s legislation, Preventing Terrorism Through Social Media Act of 2016,” would require the Secretary of State to offer rewards for information found on social media that lead to the arrest or conviction of an individual involved in the planning of an act of terrorism in the United States. Schumer wants the total amount of rewards offered to be between $25,000 to $25 million. Schumer said that this legislation will galvanize the public to further help law enforcement beat back terrorist social media messaging campaigns and possibly prevent future terror attacks.