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Costa Mesa High student suspected of posting violent threat on app

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A screen shot from Ogle’s website shows a list of campuses on the mobile app, where users can post messages, pictures and videos. A Costa Mesa High School student was arrested Thursday on suspicion of using the app to spread a threat of school violence.
(Daily Pilot)

A Costa Mesa High School student was arrested on campus Thursday on suspicion of using a smartphone app to anonymously spread a threat of school violence.

According to police, the 17-year-old boy, whose name was not released, used the Ogle app to post the threat.

He is being held at Orange County Juvenile Hall.

Authorities declined to disclose any specific statements made in the threat, citing an ongoing investigation. The post appears to have been deleted from Ogle.

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A student first reported the threat to Costa Mesa High administrators March 23, police said. The post indicated that violence would occur the following day, Newport-Mesa Unified School District spokeswoman Annette Franco said Thursday.

Police conducted interviews, performed searches and scrutinized data obtained from the Ogle app, which ultimately led to the 17-year-old’s arrest.

Franco said the district employed additional security measures last week after the threat was reported.

“We take every threat seriously,” Franco said.

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Police wrote in a statement Thursday that “no evidence has been discovered that would suggest there was an imminent threat to students or staff.”

Ogle, operated by Palo Alto-based Nuistars Inc., allows users, particularly students, to anonymously place comments, pictures and videos on feeds for specific high school and college campuses. Users can view the posted content and add their comments.

The app lists more than 65 Orange County campuses, including Corona del Mar, Costa Mesa, Estancia, Newport Harbor, Back Bay and Early College high schools in the Newport-Mesa district.

Last week, Newport-Mesa administrators asked principals to send emails to parents to make them aware of potential threats on Ogle and encourage them to delete the app from their children’s phones.

Ogle also has faced scrutiny from other area school districts.

Students from the Orange Unified and Anaheim Union High School districts have been arrested in recent weeks on suspicion of posting violent threats on the app.

Newport-Mesa officials also have expressed concern about Ogle being used for cyberbullying.

“We don’t feel that there’s any value in this app,” Franco said.

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In an anonymous emailed statement to the Daily Pilot last week, the “Ogle team” said: “We are aware of the concern, and cyberbullying is absolutely NOT our intention for the app. Our goal for this app is to create a free and safe community space for students, for a better communication. We are currently working around the clock to improve the app.

“As a matter of fact, we are also in contact with local police departments, anti-bullying organizations and local high schools to try to help the students.”

Staff writer Alex Chan contributed to this report.


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