Police reveal details on the chilling death threats sent through social media


Police say they have had to investigate hundreds of death threats sent through social media this year (Getty)

Police have revealed they are dealing with a record number of chilling death threats every year where criminals use Facebook to broadcast their murderous intentions.

The social media platform sees an estimated 670 horrifying threats to murder and mutilate people posted every year, which the police are then called in to investigate.

Victims have logged on to Facebook to find they have been threatened with knife and gun murders, torture, arson attacks and even bombs.

Internet safety campaigners claim social media platforms should have more responsibility for the content that people post on their site.

These latest figures from a Freedom of Information survey of police forces in England and Wales show the terrifying scale of the problem.

In some cases the culprits are even sending home-made videos to their victims detailing how they intend to kill them.

In Norfolk a person had a video sent to them on Facebook in which the suspect held a knife to his own throat and said: ‘I will slit your dad’s throat’.

Officers in Nottinghamshire had to deal with one case where a woman said her ex-partner’s responded to her Facebook message by posting ‘When I get you I am going to stab you till you bleed to death’.

The same force had another case where a woman’s ex-partner and his mother put a post on Facebook inciting people to find the victim, pour petrol on her and set her alight.

Avon and Somerset police had a case where a woman and her son were both issued with death threats from another woman over Facebook, while a man was threatened over Facebook and later told he would be ambushed in his pub by a shotgun-wielding gang.

Bedfordshire police had a case where a victim was sent a video from a man wielding a handgun demanding £100 or he would shoot him.

Officers at the same force dealt with the break-up of a relationship where the culprit sent messages to their ex-partner saying they would go to their home and ‘cave their head in with a hammer’.

In Cleveland, a woman was contacted by her ex-partner who threatened to burn down her house while she was inside it. The same force also had a case where a person said on Facebook they were prepared to ‘do jail time’ for killing their ex.

Police in Greater Manchester had a case where a victim was contacted on Facebook and then received messages including ‘I am going to shoot you’ and ‘Do not test me I will blow you in half’.

Another case dealt with by the same force saw a person threaten their victim by saying them would come to their house and ‘blow him up’.

Police in Northumbria described how they had a case where a victim was sent a barrage of vile messages over a two-week period that included threatening to slit the victim’s throat and sending them a picture of a knife.

West Yorkshire police dealt with a row over Facebook in which a man threatened to kill a woman and her family and ‘fire bomb’ her home in retaliation for her allegedly having started a blaze at his home.

Officers in Lancashire had a case where a woman said her ex-partner put a post on Facebook saying he would torture and kill her.

The survey of police forces found there were 498 recorded Facebook death threats in 2020, which is a 15percent rise on the figure of 433 in 2019.

Despite Facebook’s efforts, the social network is being used to issue chilling threats requiring police investigation (Credits: AFP/Getty Images)

However, not all of the 43 police forces in England and Wales responded to the survey, with some saying the number of death threat cases was so huge it would take them too long to locate the Facebook incidents.

When estimates are made for the 11 forces that did not supply a figure the total for England and Wales last year is believed to be more than 670.

David Spencer, Research Director at the Centre for Crime Prevention, said: ‘A death threat is a serious criminal offence and should be treated as such no matter how it is delivered. These individuals should face the full force of the law.

‘But social media platforms also bear some of the responsibility here too and they need to ensure that people who use their platforms in this way are removed permanently and banned from using the site again.

‘A firm approach is the only way to deter people from committing offences like these which social media has made all too easy these days.’

National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for Stalking and Harassment, Deputy Chief Constable Paul Mills, said: ‘Where we receive an allegation, each case will be assessed on the evidence available to consider whether or not a criminal offence has been committed and any safeguarding measures need to be put in place.

‘Members of the public need to take personal responsibility to ensure that any communication they post is appropriate and does not leave them open to criminal allegations.

‘The police service continues to work with providers of social media platforms to encourage them to play their part in ensuring inappropriate content is not tolerated on the sites they host.’

A Facebook company spokesman said: ‘Facebook does not tolerate threatening behaviour and we work closely with the police when there’s a threat to someone’s safety.

‘We have created a number of tools which help tackle these issues, including the ability to block or restrict accounts people don’t want to hear from.

‘Globally we have 35,000 safety and security experts working alongside state of the art technology to help keep the people using Facebook safe..’


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