The FBI continues to prowl public posts on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites. Whatever material seems "suspicious" is followed shortly thereafter with subpoenas for user info. This is then followed up by DOJ press releases announcing the successful capture of another dangerous individual. As the U.S. government tries to root out homegrown jihadists, the FBIs campaign to identify budding terrorists via the Internet before they can carry out violence is playing an increasingly prominent role. Counterterrorism experts say the approachwhich relies on informants, as well as undercover agents who monitor chat rooms and target suspectsis often the best chance at disrupting terrorism before it is too late. However, critics counter that these tactics may target people for little more than online speech. It is quite clear when you look at the court documents in these cases, that social media played a prominent role in either pushing the propaganda or connecting those being charged with like-minded folks, said Seamus Hughes, deputy director of the Program on Extremism, referring to the George Washington University study. Some, though, say the governments tactics sometimes result in federal officials pursuing suspects for little more than online speech and actions that, while troubling, may not have ever resulted in a serious terror threat. One case that exemplifies the complexities federal law enforcement face involves Rahatul Khan, a University of Texas student who was sentenced in September to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to a terrorism charge. One might think the details of these types of cases would get all sorted out in court, but critics counter that the DOJ is, in many cases, able to coax obviously impressionable and not overly-bright young men into plea agreements, in which case, no further determinations are made. Percentage-wise, few cases actually make it to argument in court because prosecutors are most often able to scare the defendant into a plea agreement. Read more: FBI Steps Up Pursuit of Terror Threats on Social Media An Akron, Ohio, man was arrested on federal charges that he solicited the murder of members of the U.S. military. Terrence J. McNeil, 25, appeared in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Ohio after being charged with one count of solicitation of a crime of violence. The charge was announced by Assistant Attorney General John P. Carlin, U.S. Attorney Steven M. Dettelbach of the Northern District of Ohio and Special Agent in Charge Stephen D. Anthony of the FBIs Cleveland Division. According to the allegations in the complaint, Terrence McNeil solicited the murder of members of our military by disseminating ISILs violent rhetoric, circulating detailed U.S. military personnel information, and explicitly calling for the killing of American service members in their homes and communities, said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. ISIL and its followers continue to use social media in an attempt to incite violence around the world, including in the United States. The National Security Division's highest priority is counterterrorism and we will use all of our tools to disrupt threats and acts of violence against our military members and their families. https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/ohio-man-arrested-soliciting-murder-members-us-military Tucked in amongst the banalities of everyday social media life are McNeil's more inflammatory posts (and reposts). The FBI already had him under surveillance by the time he posted the thing that bothered the agency the most. As Ryan J. Reilly of Huffington Post points out, it wasn't even original user-generated content that led to McNeil's arrest: A man from Akron, Ohio, who has supported the Islamic State online was arrested by federal authorities Thursday and charged because he allegedly "reblogged" a GIF on Tumblr that called for attacks on members of the U.S. military. The GIF, under the banner "Islamic State Hacking Division," reportedly loops through "several dozen photographs, purportedly of U.S. military personnel, along with their respective name, address and military branch," according to a Justice Department press release. "Kill them in their own lands, behead them in their own homes, stab them to death as they walk their streets thinking that they are safe," the GIF reportedly stated. McNeil allegedly reblogged the GIF on September 24. GIF is just an image format that supports animated picture frames. Of course reposts are not necessarily endorsements. You can find conservative bloggers posting excerpts of ISIS propaganda as well, with the clear intention of showing how outrageously terrible the terrorist organization is. This nuanced distinction was apparently lost in the prosecution. The FBI's affidavit contains little more than a thorough recounting of McNeil's ISIS/Islam-related social media posts. There's nothing in there that suggests McNeil was anything more than someone who made a bunch of ill-advised posts about ISIS and Islam. Reposting someone else's threats isn't really the same thing as rolling your own. But it was apparently enough to result in criminal charges. An expansive search warrant not only granted the FBI permission to perform forensic examinations of every electronic device in McNeil's possession, but to seize nearly everything else in his possession, including papers, documents, bank records, receipts, weapons, ammo, photos, airplane tickets, and, perhaps most outrageously of all: United States Currency in excess of $500.00, precious metals and gems, gold coins, jewelry and financial instruments, including stocks and bonds, deeds of trust, sales contracts, vehicle instruments and artwork.Basically anything of economic value. Consider for a moment the costs of hiring a lawyer. This is another dirty government tactic that seeks to force the defendant to have to settle with a public defender. The government had not even secured a conviction yet and nowhere in its affidavit was it even suggested McNeil's money came from any other source than his job at a local hospital. (source: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/2...-down-fbi-after-reblogging-pro-isis-gif.shtml ) Safya Roe Yassin, 38, of Buffalo, Missouri was arrested for allegedly making online threats against FBI agents on Twitter and Facebook, and posting personal information about them, as well as U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and State Department employees on social media. She also posted a threatening photo of President Obama and tweeted that a female media personality "would be better off without her head." Yassin was charged with "communicating threats of violence over the Internet". https://pjmedia.com/trending/2016/0...bi-agents-others-on-isis-linked-social-media/ John Martin Roos, 61, was arrested after a search warrant was executed on his apartment for making online threatening postings about President Obama: Man accused of online threats against Obama says he uses social media to 'blow off steam' Citizens in the U.K. have also been arrested for offensive or "threatening" online posts: Massive Increase In Arrests For Hate Speech On Social Media Peter Dow's political defence to the "criminal tweets" charge This is a huge slippery slope to Free Speech Rights.