Trusting Social Media

With all of the recent incidents in Wichita Falls, many people have been turning to social media to get the very latest on what is going on.

“It's very uncommon to find somebody that doesn't have access to a computer, or smart phone,” Officer Jeff Hughes, Public Information Officer for the Wichita Falls Police Department said, “They always have it and they are always connected.”

Since most people are connected at all times, it makes sense for city officials to utilize them.  WFPD officials said their goal with social media sites are simple.

“It's just to reach as many people as we can with proper and pertinent information,” he said.

However, not everything you read is reliable.  Officer Hughes said they have encountered many posts that are inaccurate.

“Putting wrong information on social media, it does throw in that element of confusion,” he said, “It's not credible information.  It's only speculation.”

That speculation could be putting someone in harms way, depending on the situation and what information was posted.

While officials with the city do their best to correct the information posed, a lot of times the damage is already done.

“If the wrong information is out there, you put the correct information out there, that wrong information is still out there and it's still going to rear its head,” Officer Hughes said, “I's much rather have no information out there than wrong information.”

This is why police said it is so important to make sure you are getting your information from a credible source.  This can include any government agency, such as the police and fire department, as well as local media, such as Newschannel 6.

“If they're not getting it from those sources, then you  need to be very careful,” he said.

Police said if you have information on a crime, or incident, to contact them, rather than posting it online to your personal page.  By doing this you are guaranteeing that officials will get the information.

“We want to encourage the public to continue to send us those leads and to send us those tips via social media,” Officer Hughes said.

He explained there have been multiple occasions where the police department has posted on their social media asking for assistance from the public.  In some cases, they were able to identify a suspect with an hour.  So, social media does have its benefits, but it can be challenging at times.

Newschannel 6 also spoke with officials with the Wichita Falls Independent School District about social media.  They said the biggest challenge when an incident happens, is students will text their family or friends about what they know.  Sometimes the information they are sharing is not true.

This causes parents to be concerned and sometimes they will come to the school to remove their children.  Officials with WFISD said this can be dangerous if there is a threat.  This is why officials post to their social media.

“Student safety is our number one priority at all times, so we want parents to know, but we also don't want to alarm anybody if a situation is not necessary,” Communications Officer for WFISD, Ashley Thomas said.

Officials said if there is false information, they will do their best to fix it.  They hope the correct information will spread just as fast, alleviating any concerns.

So, bottom line, be careful what you read because it could be false.

, Newschannel 6