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Misinformation on social media concerns Pa. police departments

Local experts and police departments respond to misinformation circling on various social media platforms.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Local police departments are fighting misinformation being shared on various social media platforms. 

On Thursday, a Facebook post was being circulated around the Chambersburg community. The post stated that a serial killer was on the loose, which was later debunked by the Chambersburg Police Department.

Credit: CrimeWatch

“Within five minutes of us getting that information, we were able to determine that the information was false that it didn't even originate here in the country,” said Chief of Police, Ron Camacho of the Chambersburg Police Department.

This is not an anomaly either. In East Pennsboro Township, another Facebook post made its rounds in the community, which forced a response from the police department addressing the claims.

Regarding the recent viral Facebook post, I would like to set the record straight since it contains false information...

Posted by East Pennsboro Township Police Department on Monday, July 25, 2022

“That [spent] a lot of resources, and a lot of time over something that wasn't true," said Mark Green, chief of police at the East Pennsboro Police Department. "You could use your time more wisely on something.”

Local police departments are saying that these incidences can cause major problems within their communities and undermine law enforcement's efforts to inform the public. 

“It can cause people to lower their trust in the police and lower their trust in their police department's ability to protect and serve," said Camacho. "[It] is detrimental to everybody.”

Professor of Media Arts, Stacey Irwin, at Millersville University said that the public should only take social media posts at face value. 

"Most of the time, what we're reading is unverified sources, their opinion, and they're editorializing," said Irwin. "We, as citizens, need to be able to know that we can go to the right sources to find the facts of information.”

These resources, Camacho said, are provided by local police departments for the public. 

"Official information will come from the police," said Camacho. "That's the best information for you to understand the facts and the circumstances regarding certain major incidents.”

Local police departments also urged communities to really think before they share.

"Do your due diligence," said Camacho, "take a step back, and look before you start sharing something blindly.”

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