Law enforcement agencies tracking social media threats

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Malco Majestic Theater in Hickory Hill is the latest target of a social media round-up.
A post that is now going viral says on New Year`s Eve there will be more than movies playing at the theater, with threats of a gang war fight.

"Yes, it does worry me to the utmost and all I got to say is pray, pray, pray for our young people," said Regina Lee of Whitehaven, who was going to see a movie at Malco Thursday afternoon.

So how serious are these threats?

Memphis Police said they are aware of the one at Malco and will have extra patrols.

We wanted to find out how police decide if these threats are credible. After all, it was social media postings that led to a teen mob scene at two local malls this week.

Police wouldn't say how they monitor social media, but said they are aware when threats are trending through sources and tips. They treat them seriously, strategically mobilizing officers and setting up special units if warranted.

The Shelby County Sheriff`s Department told WREG its Office of Homeland Security regularly monitors what's trending and shares information with agencies across the region and nation.

"We monitor increases in chatter. We monitor key phrases and words. When we see things start to pop up we get real interested and start tracking those," said Earle Farrell, spokesperson for the Shelby County Sheriff's Department.

While officers refrain from shutting down businesses, preferring for citizens to go about their daily routine, they said they are doing plenty behind the scenes making sure those routines stay safe.

"We are going to respond to any kind of situation that is dangerous to the public. You got a bunch of people running around knocking people over and hitting people that's a dangerous situation," Farrell said.

Here is something else to think about. The Sheriff's Department said if riots ensue, people are hurt and they can pin it back to one person sending a message, that person could be charged with inciting a riot, causing civil disobedience or even assault.

They said sharing those threatening posts can also make you a accomplice.