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Man arrested for threatening another Virginia Tech massacre on Yik Yak
He turned himself in, but would Yik Yak’s metadata have helped police catch him anyway?
“Another 4.16 moment is going to happen tomorrow. Just a warning,” read the message that appeared at 11:15pm ET on April 28, with a geotag in the heart of the Virginia Tech campus. The number referenced the April 16, 2007 Virginia Tech massacre that left 32 dead.
Police issued a crime alert the next morning and began an investigation into the threat, reported the Collegiate Times.
The suspect, Kiung Moon, turned himself in on Wednesday afternoon, about 16 hours after the threat surfaced, Moon, a business information technology major, was arrested and charged with harassment by computer. He faces a $2,500 fine or up to 12 months in jail.
This isn’t the first time that a threat of mass violence has surfaced on Yik Yak, an increasingly popular app that allows anonymous chatter within a 10 mile radius. A dozen college campuses have faced such threats, while racist, homophobic, and misogynist yaks (the term for individual messages on the site) have sparked firestorms on other campuses.
Yik Yak’s anonymity has significant limits. The app logs IP addresses, GPS coordinates, as well as time and date of messages posted. The police investigation still hadn’t identified Moon by the time he turned himself in, but given the metadata that Yik Yak saves for each yak, the technology student likely figured it was only a matter of time.
Illustration via Fernando Alfonso III
Patrick Howell O'Neill is a notable cybersecurity reporter whose work has focused on the dark net, national security, and law enforcement. A former senior writer at the Daily Dot, O'Neill joined CyberScoop in October 2016. I am a cybersecurity journalist at CyberScoop. I cover the security industry, national security and law enforcement.