Police ask you to think before spreading false information on social media

HARTSVILLE, SC (WBTW) – Many of you have asked News 13 about the rumors floating around on Facebook of a Black Panther attack planned on schools on Friday.

Law enforcement agencies around the state say it’s nothing but a rumor, and social media rumors are something officers around the Pee Dee and Grand Strand have had to fight on several occasions these past few weeks.

You probably don’t think much of it when you find an interesting article on Facebook or Twitter and click the share button.

But in a world with information at our fingertips, sharing the wrong information is something News 13’s Web Producer Jo Brown says can be dangerous.

“Anyone seemingly can get on the internet and post thing that possibly aren’t true, are potentially dangerous, or a threat to you or your community,” said Brown.

False information, like the recent rumors, is something Brown says she sees all the time, and as a news organization, we have to be careful about what we publish.

“We want to make sure before we put that information out there that number one, law enforcement agencies are aware of the situation, and number two, that they are also looking into it to be able to validate whether the source is legitimate or not. If there’s not reason to put cause for concern into our communities, then we don’t want to do that,” said Brown.

With the ability to publish and spread information at the click of a button, law enforcement agencies ask you to self-police what you share.

“Sometimes they sound really good and they seem to come from a reliable source, and it’s real easy to click the share button without giving it a whole lot of thought,” said Lieutenant Brian Rudick with the Hartsville Police Department.

Twice in the last month, the Hartsville Police Department has had to address rumors spread on Facebook.

The first rumor was about sex trafficking in the area and now about the Black Panther Party attack.

Both of those rumors, they worked with the FBI, SLED, and various agencies to find were false.

“People share those things with the best intentions thinking safety, but unfortunately it puts a lot of people in panic. People are threatening to pull their children out of school and miss school for basically nothing,” said Lieutenant Rudick.

Lieutenant Rudick says before you share, be sure the information comes from a credible site and check the spelling and grammar in the post.

He says incorrect grammar can sometimes be one of the first signs of a scam.

The Hartsville Police Department isn’t the only one trying to debunk these social media rumors.

Thursday, agencies in Florence, Darlington, and Horry County sent out information assuring parents the threat on schools tomorrow is false.

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