Social media is a big help when it comes to getting the word out in a hurry about traffic problems, local events, and weather emergencies. The downside was exposed this week in Carroll County; in the wake of the Parkland, Florida tragedy, when posts online alleged that threats had been made against a pair of local schools and unnecessarily created panic for area parents and students.
Carroll County Sheriff's Office Captain Jeff Richards had this to say, "There have been several rumors posted on social media about threats to some of the schools in the area. The Carroll County Sherriff's Office is actually pursuing every lead and thus far we have not found any credible threat. However, we have identified some of the students that are responsible for spreading these rumors and they will be dealt with by the school and the criminal justice system."
Richards said posters on Facebook became unwitting accomplices to spreading false and unverified information this week that caused a stir.
"We have spent several hours and manpower and other resources chasing down the origins of these allegations. Each origin has been similar in that the person heard something or they took it out of context and they shared it on a social media platform. While most people meant this as harmless, they still caused panic and fear in others and disrupted the school system. This could result in reprisals of criminal and or civil nature for someone who unintentionally spread these rumors. If you have any information or concerns, please contact 911 or your local law enforcement agency prior to sharing posts that you do not know the validity of. Be assured that we share the same concern as you for the safety of the children and others."
Richards said two students and an adult could be charged for their alleged actions prior to the rumor spreading through the community.
A similar incident occured in the Carrollton City Schools District Friday.
"A post on Facebook about a school referred to as CHHS caused confusion when shared with others, prompting some Facebook users to misread the acronym as Carrollton Junior High School (CJHS) or Carrollton High School (CHS)," Schools Supt. Dr. M. Albertus said. "After investigating the source of this information, coupled with a thorough on-campus investigation by the Carrollton Police Department and school administrators, it has been determined this post information posed no campus threat here at Carrollton City Schools."
Albertus concluded: "Thankfully, this incident turned out to be a false alarm, but it doesn't diminish the commitment we have to protecting our students, staff, and community when they are on our campus. I want to assure you that we take every single threat VERY seriously, investigate each one thoroughly, and will continue to do so."