EDITORIAL: Thoughtless posts to Facebook cause real harm and stress

At the risk of resembling a broken record, it needs to be said again.

Do not – repeat DO NOT – believe everything or possibly anything you read on social media.

Moreover, don’t post rumors or speculations, presenting them as facts.

When you do that, for example when you hear about a car crash on Highway 3 and then post to a local Facebook group with more than 4,000 members that there are ‘multiple fatalities’, you create unnecessary stress.

That’s what happened recently on a Saturday night in Princeton, and understandably it upset a lot of people.

A car did indeed go off Highway 3 near Hedley, striking a hydro pole, in the early hours of the evening, February 1.

One man travelling alone suffered serious injuries and was transported to Penticton General Hospital. He passed away two weeks later.

How that became an accident causing several deaths is a mystery that does not warrant investigation, although it probably started with a conversation something like this:

• Accident on Highway 3

• Gee I hope no one died.

• Someone died? How horrible. So many people die on Highway 3.

• Many people died on Highway 3 in an accident? I have to tell more than 4,000 people right now.

The Spotlight was able to confirm with police, and publish the facts of the incident, a couple of hours after the original post that sent the community into a tailspin.

It’s fortunate the local RCMP detachment follows an excellent media policy, and will even return a reporter’s message at 10 p.m. on a Saturday night.

Naturally news organizations follow social media for leads and tips, but as like as not, they turn out to be rumors and speculations and total time wasters.

Usually a quick call to authorities clears up misunderstanding.

It brings to mind the Sunday morning someone posted to the same Facebook group that vandals had smeared dog excrement all over the slides at Vermilion Fork Elementary School’s playground.

Yeah. No. It was a baby bear caught at the top of a piece of play equipment and literally had the insides scared out of it.

Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, but it comes responsibility.

The saying used to be ‘think before you speak.’

In this age it needs to be ‘think before you post crap.’

To report a typo, email:
publisher@similkameenspotlight.com
.



andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com

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