Fake social media posts

Beware of fake social media posts like the one pictured here.

Recent social media posts have area officers reminding residents to take a closer look and ensure they are not sharing false information.

Posts about fake crimes are popping up on local buy/sale/trade pages on Facebook, sparking police to warn residents about spreading incorrect information.

“These posts create a false alarm to where people fear for their safety,” Seguin Police Assistant Chief Rusty Suarez said. “Then those people take it upon themselves to take action, they’ll spread the false information and it causes everyone else to going into chaos and panic for no reason.”

The two most recent posts were about an abandoned child in Seguin — with the city’s name spelled incorrectly — and an alleged serial killer abducting women.

Neither is a true crime that has happened in the city, Suarez said.

Stopping the spread of false information isn’t easy, but his department’s community engagement officer works to keep the rumor mill from fueling the fire.

“It is hard to stop people from putting stuff out there,” Suarez said. “It just spreads like wildfire and it is impossible to tame without having any proof of it actually happening. Once we get word of any of these spoofs, we’ll try to put an end to it. However, most of the time it doesn’t hit our desks until a day or two after it has already spread throughout the community.”

Any reports made to the department are taken seriously, and officers investigate the validity of the claims in social media posts.

“If there is any validation to the posts, we’ll be sure to let the citizens know what is going on,” he said. “Either way, we like to let them know, so they can at least have the peace of mind to know that there is nothing going on. There was no baby found in a dumpster, there is not a serial killer on the streets.”

The profiles of people posting are usually spoofed and not even from this country, Suarez said.

Instead of automatically sharing such posts, Suarez suggests residents turn to his department’s Facebook page or reach out to the department.

In the instance that something does happen, Suarez said the department would let the community know first and foremost through its own social media pages.

“We can pass the word and it can reach thousands of people in a matter of minutes,” he said. “However, it is just the same as bad information, it spreads easily, which the bad spreads worse than good information. It is hard to stay on top of everything going on and making sure we squash all of the invalid information that is going on, but we are doing our best to do just that.”

Felicia Frazar is the managing editor of the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail her at felicia.frazar@seguingazette.com .

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