Don’t get me wrong – I love the Brewster County Sheriffs Department. They’re the folks who keep us safe and sound in the Big Bend region. I have no complaints. I’m a fan. The deputies with whom I’m acquainted are pleasant, professional, and get the job done. I’ve met Sheriff Dodson a couple of times and he seems like an alright guy and then some. And their weekly “sheriffs blotter” pieces are always interesting, and often unintentionally hysterically funny (most funny entry ever: police were dispatched to a trailer park because a woman was overheard hollering “help!” but upon investigation it was determined that her dog’s name was Help).
But honestly, whoever is running their Facebook page this week needs the weekend off.
On their official departmental Facebook page, they posted a story of dubious linage, from a website I’d never heard of. The alarmist headline of the story is “BREAKING: TEXAS POLICE ARREST MUSLIM TERRORIST WEARING ISIS BODY ARMOR.”
Please note that other headlines of note on the aforementioned website include:
OBAMA MOCKS CHRISTIANITY
AL GORE ADMITS THAT GLOBAL WARMING IS A MYTH
RESEARCH FRAUD: VACCINE LINK TO AUTISM COVERED UP BY TOP SCIENTISTS
Another headline at the website, ironically, is “ISIS LIVING AT 1600 PENNSYLVANIA AVENUE?”
Look, this website (to which I will not be linking) isn’t the first wacko right-wing website to spread disinformation all over the internet. But when otherwise-credible law enforcement agencies get involved and help them spread their drivel, that’s a different story.
When the Brewster County Sheriff’s office posted the story on their page, I was amazed, and questioned the post in a comment. I was quickly joined by several others who had similar concerns about spreading alarmist “news.”
Then whoever administers the Facebook page for the Sheriff did something amazing. The administrator claimed that they weren’t saying it was true, they were merely asking the public for verification that it was true.
Oh really? Here’s a screen shot of the Sheriff’s office post when I first saw it:
But here’s another screen shot of the same post a couple of hours later, after the department was claiming “hey, we’re just asking!” Notice their edit up top:
Funny thing – they weren’t “just asking” when they first posted it. They were posting drivel. Also, they weren’t learning how to spell “authenticity,” but I digress.
Terrorist organizations are just about as serious as it gets these days. People need accurate information, not alarmist fiction. And for the alarmist fiction to be presented by a trusted law enforcement agency is the height of irresponsibility.
What’s the harm, you ask? As of the last time I checked,
54 76 82 people had shared the original post to their own Facebook walls. And those people aren’t “just asking.” Because they trust their sheriff’s department.
Too bad their sheriff’s department Facebook page administrators believe everything they read on the internet, huh?
UPDATE: the Sheriff’s Department, via comment to their original post, now says this:
Unfortunately, they have not removed the original post, and now
79 82 unsuspecting people have shared this false story on their own Facebook pages. Instead of spreading information, your Sheriff’s Department is spreading fear.
UPDATE 2: they finally removed the post…at least an hour after determining it was false.