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Social Media Threats


overwhelming number of false positives.

As a real-world example, imagine an

organization is monitoring Twitter for the

keywords “Hollywood” and “bomb” then

scouring the results to identify alarming posts.

They’ll be alerted to tweets like: “I had a bomb

dinner in Hollywood,” “the street performer in

Hollywood was the bomb,” “leaving Hollywood

after a bomb movie,” and the list goes on. And

while sorting through the clutter actual damage

is done.

There were signs on social media 72-hours

before the ISIS attack in Paris. Two New York

City police officers were killed nearly three hours

after Ismaaiyl Brinsley posted direct threats on

Instagram. Innocent children have lost their lives

in school shootings that could’ve been prevented.

It is important to note that threats aimed at the

sports and entertainment industries are nothing

new and have been around for ages: however,

social media changed their delivery method.

For example, in 1973 as Hank Aaron was

approaching Babe Ruth’s career homerun record,

he received a flood of letters with racist threats.

Never once did he give in to fear and went on to

break the record.

Nowadays, everyone from Kim Kardashian

to Rihanna to

Game of Thrones

star Brenock

O’Connor have been threatened on social media.

“If you get people fromSpain and Portugal and all

over the world saying they are going to kill your

family, you just can’t take it to heart or you would

not cope,” stated O’Connor, after being targeted

for something his character did on the show.

The entertainment industry is at a point where

the success of an album, event, movie or TV show

breeds passion and sometimes fanaticism that,

when combined with easy access to social media

and the misguided aurora of secrecy, becomes a

recipe for disaster.

Outside of threats involving physical violence,

there are a plethora of other threats surfacing

on social media that directly impact individuals

and organizations, including: unreleased content

published on social networks, chatter before

cyber-attacks occur, and damaging posts with the

potential to go viral and harm brand reputation.

When one takes a step back to think about it,

social media has become a digital weapon and is

being used on a daily basis to harm others. But

what is the solution?

Social media threats have also become a big

problem in the U.K. going back a few years.

When Jeremy Clarkson was fired from the BBC’s

Top Gear

show, diehard fans expressed their

frustration on social media and actually made

death threats to his potential successor. The BBC

and even

The Guardian

daily newspaper reached

out to Soteria Intelligence, the Los Angeles-based

social media intelligence firm that I run, for


The laws in the U.K. are getting ahead of the

problem, but, at the same time, it’s often difficult

to track down certain threat actors if they

used fake accounts, library computers, etc. For

example, when Rihanna received death threats

on Instagram, all of the news outlets reported

the person’s name incorrectly and stated the

investigation was ongoing. We discovered his

real name and actually found an image of his

driver’s license on another Instagram account.

One of the biggest challenges of combating

social media threats of all types and mitigating

damage early on is having the ability to analyze

millions of data points to extract actionable

intelligence; most of which is done manually

today due to technology limitations.

Simply said, there’s no way humans

themselves can tackle a “big data” problem

by using listening tools that are powered

by combinations of keywords, posts on a

map or other basic metrics that produce an

As a result, organizations have spent millions of

dollars to mitigate damage after PR catastrophes

originating on social networks.

What’s interesting is that the solution to this

very serious problem was shown in Steven


Minority Report

, where “Pre-Cogs”

had the power to see into the future and predict

crimes. This may seem totally far-off, but it’s not.

With recent advancements in Artificial

Intelligence (AI), supercomputers can be trained

to become more intelligent than humanly

possible, and even be crowned the champion of


(IBM’s Watson). The days of relying on

elementary metrics are over and

Minority Report

has come to life.

Using AI, computers have the ability to look

at millions of data points and extract needles

from haystacks in ways that would blow your

mind. Empowered by AI, it’s not individuals or

teams making decisions but instead solutions

from literally thousands of years of combined


Social media can be a real threat to the

entertainment industry in myriad ways, and it’s

critical for companies to get ahead of the problem

before it knocks on the front door.

What if a studio spent $100 million to create a

movie with an all-star cast and for some reason

tensions began to build on social media leading

up to its release, without boiling over, resulting

in negative publicity, canceled screenings, and

diminished sales – wouldn’t executives want

to identify the problem before it spirals out of

control and financial losses skyrocket?

On the other hand, if there were signs on social

media before the

Dark Knight Rises


could the tragic incident that left 12 dead and

many more injured have been prevented?

Ultimately, we’ll never know, but we have to

work toward making the world a better place in

the future.

The moral of the story is that social media

provides a wealth of valuable information that

must be properly cultivated and analyzed to keep

people safe, protect organizations, and allow the

entertainment industry to continue to thrive.


Aaron Schoenberger, CEO of Soteria Intelligence.

May 2017


(Continued from Cover)

Aaron Schoenberger, CEO of Soteria Intelligence

Outside of threats

involving physical

violence, there are

a plethora of other

threats surfacing

on social media

that directly impact

individuals and