Nebraska expert calls social media threats against federal agents alarming

OMAHA, Neb. (KLKN) — Right now, federal agents are frightened for themselves and their families as they sift through dozens of threatening social media posts.

This comes after more outrage over the FBI’s investigation into classified documents seized at former President Donald Trump’s Florida home.

A recent study suggests half of all Americans believe we’re on the cusp of a civil war, which is a main theme on several social media sites.

“When you start to identify targets of your anti-government sentiment around specific types of people, that gets me very concerned,” said Gina Ligon, the director of the National Counterterrorism, Innovation and Education Center (NCITE) at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.  

Ligon and her team are trying to identify those kind of people.

“We’re looking at understanding the temperature of the crowd when conditions are right for an extremist to take action, and we’re seeing that temperature get hotter,” she said. 

Ligon has seen the growing anger on social media, specifically toward federal agents and their families. Some people are even posting where agents live and where their children go to school on social media.

Ligon said that brazenness is what’s most alarming.

“To do it on an open platform like TikTok or Twitter or Facebook, to me feels like a change in the ecosystem of extreme rhetoric,” she said. 

Luckily, Ligon says Nebraska’s behavioral threat assessment teams, which analyze these startling videos, are some of the best in the country. She says everyone works together to prevent violence.

“I think it’s something Nebraskans would be incredibly proud of if they understood how many threats were stopped,” Ligon said. 

Still, concern for national safety is rising. Ligon said the current threats are similar to what led up to the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995, which killed more than 150 people.

“There’s a difference between being pro-Second Amendment and shooting a federal agent on-site,” Ligon said. “That is a very different mindset.”  

She said there are ways you can help.

You should always take these threats seriously and report them immediately. Ligon said this is critical because “almost every mass shooter leaks their plans.” 

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