School officials and authorities across the United States said they were amping up security on Thursday after threats were made on TikTok and other social media suggesting that shootings would take place on Dec. 17.
It is unclear where the anonymous and vague school threat first originated from but the posts warn of shootings and bomb threats at schools around the country on Friday.
Authorities have said they have received no evidence suggesting that the posts were credible but school officials across states including Arizona, Washington, Connecticut, Illinois, Montana, New York, and Pennsylvania said they have amped up security across education facilities as a precautionary measure.
The Naugatuck Police Department in Connecticut issued a statement telling parents they would increase their presence and patrols at Borough Schools in the “coming days” due to an “uptick in unrelated threats at schools in the region.”
“While there has been NO threat against Naugatuck Schools, students, or staff, the public can anticipate our presence to increase the community’s sense of safety during the coming school days,” police said.
Police in Seattle said they have opened investigations into threats at two schools, “which led to the closure of one high school campus,” per a statement issued Wednesday.
“This morning, police received calls from Seattle Public Schools staff, reporting a social media threat involving students at Franklin High School and a potential threat at Rainier Beach High School,” police said. “The nature of the specific threat at Franklin led school officials to close the campus for the day.”
“Rainier Beach did not receive any specific threats and continued the school day sheltered in place,” officials added. “The Seattle Police Department is working closely with Seattle Public Schools to address campus safety and will provide additional patrols as needed.”
In Arizona, the Scottsdale Unified School District, in a letter to parents, said the threats appear to be “generic and are being posted nationwide” but noted that there would be an increased police presence on and around its on Thursday and Friday.
In New York, Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol said area schools will have an increased police presence Friday, Syracuse reported.
Elsewhere, Michigan’s Charlton Police Department issued a statement Thursday saying it’s “aware of a Snap Chat message about a threat to Charlton Middle School” and the agency is “actively working with other agencies and the school.”
“We believe this threat may be related to [a] Tik Tok challenge and not a credible threat. We have patrols concentrated in certain areas as a precaution,” officials said.
According to the Baltimore Public School District, law enforcement agencies investigated the threat “and determined that it originated in Arizona and is not credible.
“BCPS has been made aware of an anonymous threat posted on TikTok targeting all schools in the United States. The post alleges that there are planned school shootings that will take place on Friday, December 17,” the school district wrote on Twitter.
“Law enforcement agencies have investigated this threat and determined that it originated in Arizona and is not credible. We want to continue to encourage members of Team BCPS to report suspicious or threatening activities or postings,” they added.
TikTok in a statement Thursday said, “We handle even rumored threats with utmost seriousness, which is why we’re working with law enforcement to look into warnings about potential violence at schools even though we have not found evidence of such threats originating or spreading via TikTok.”
Under U.S. law, internet companies such as TikTok are generally exempt from liability for the material users post on their networks, owing to a provision in Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act which states, “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”
Also in Michigan, all Oxford Community School buildings will be closed for the rest of this week following concerns from the community over the vague posts.
“Although law enforcement has cleared our K- 8, Bridges and Crossroads school buildings for our safe reopening tomorrow, many in our community have expressed concern surrounding yesterday’s threat and do not feel ready to return,” officials said in an alert.
“This has caused us to pause and consider the current needs and emotional well-being of our school community. Therefore, we have decided to close all district school buildings for the remainder of the week.”
The high school has remained closed for classes in the wake of a deadly school shooting that left four students dead and seven people wounded.
Ethan Crumbley, 15, was captured on surveillance cameras opening fire at the high school in Oxford on Nov. 30. The teenager surrendered to law enforcement and was charged with 24 counts, including four counts of first-degree murder.
Ethan’s parents, James and Jennifer Crumbley, were later charged with four counts each of homicide manslaughter involuntary.
There have been nine active and 235 non-active shooter incidents at schools across the U.S. this year, according to the Center for Homeland Defense and Security.