Police investigating cases like the recent shootout at Pittsburgh synagogue, pipe bomb attempts and high school shooting incident at Florida are in a dilemma about how to access risky behavior of perpetuators from online behavior on social media. People keep venting their frustration on social media about issues that trouble them which could be against people of a specific race, color and religion or political issues and social issues. But rarely is a person’s social media profile checked when they go out to buy firearms in United States due to its gun laws and no one can confirm for certainty that people ranting on social media will go out and kill their fellowmen.
The connection between rants on social media and actual action came to the fore after it was revealed that Robert Bowers involved in the shootout at Pittsburg synagogue was virulently anti-Semitic and had expressed his views on right wing social media site Gab. The cover photo of Robert’s account has a neo-Nazi symbol and among his recent posts that have been archived there is a photo of fiery oven that was infamously used at Nazi concentration camps during World War II.
His page has several posts about imagined conspiracy theories involving Jewish people and also has suggestions that the Nazi Holocaust was fake propaganda spread by the community to gain sympathy. Just before carrying out the shooting Bowers had posted on Gab that he would be going in for action as he could not watch his people being slaughtered. He managed to kill 11 innocent people at the synagogue and injured six others among which there were four police officers. Law enforcement people are keeping tabs on social media posts to identify potentially threatening people but are unable to distinguish between actual threat and free speech. About three quarters of police people are still carrying out tracking activities manually using keywords which make it difficult for them to keep tabs on everyone.