Charges are expected soon after postings earlier this week on a social media app threatened violence at a Des Moines area school. Pleasant Hill Police say two students are believed to be responsible for the threats at Southeast Polk High School.
The threats were made on the app Yik Yak, which allows users to make posts anonymously. But, cyber security expert and Iowa State University professor Doug Jacobsen says virtually anything posted on the Internet is traceable. He notes Yik Yak utilizes a user’s GPS coordinates. “Also, the IP address of your phone on the Internet is recorded by the Yik Yak servers,” Jacobsen says. “So, those two pieces of information can be used by law enforcement to potentially track you down.”
There’s been heightened security in place at Southeast Polk since a threat was made over the weekend and another one was posted Tuesday. Jacobsen says teens and all social media users should recognize that everything they post can have consequences. “It never goes away and it can always come back to haunt you,” Jacobsen says. “The rule of thumb I tell people to tell their kids is ‘what would grandma think?’ Before I post this, what would grandma think if she knew I was the one who put that on the Internet?”
The superintendent of Southeast Polk Schools announced late Wednesday that two students suspected of posting the threatening messages have been suspended from school. Police say formal charges are pending, as they continue to question additional students.