Thursday, January 26, 2017

• FAKE News?

I think most of us have become tired of what has become known as FAKE news.

Without touching any of the FAKE national news, let's just talk about two local cases of it.

The first is dealing with Ortega Highway.

A sinkhole developed on Wednesday January 25th on Ortega Highway. 

That part is REAL NEWS, it's closed!

The road will remain closed to through traffic for the better part of three weeks.
Graphic from Orange County Register story.

The FAKE part of the story is the picture that has been floating around.

Facebook is a good way for people to share local info quickly, but all too often popular threads get taken over by bored people that try to derail a topic or just are sharing information that they don't know is false.
This FAKE image was shared by a resident on Councilmember
Bridgette Moore's thread on the topic of the Ortega Highway sinkhole.
Most people see such an image and take it as legitimate. Looks real enough at first glance.

Other than the silly over the top bottomless pit, the fact it's not in the place that has been reported, coupled with the hills not showing the signs of two weeks worth of rain (it's bone dry in that image), or that those weren't the types of clouds in the sky, it would make for a passable April Fools prank.

Our esteemed Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez was even hooked by it when she unknowingly tweeted the fake photo out.
I can't wait to ask MM about this at her next community coffee,
which happens to be tomorrow. (Friday January 27th At RJs in Murrieta)
Here is a look at the real sinkhole as captured and shared by a Facebook user.

No harm no foul here since no one was hurt, but then there is another recent local story where a person's reputation was attacked with false statements being repeated on Facebook.

In Canyon Lake a resident's dog was attacked by a bird of prey on January 14th. From there false rumors spread like wildfire.

Before they knew what had actually happened to the dog, the police were called out and the dog owners were asked, "[W]ho they thought could be responsible for harming their dog."

They'd reportedly had some run ins with a neighbor in the past, so his name was given to the officer. 

Instead of reporting the angst of losing her dog to a personal diary, Facebook was chosen instead.

Quote from the Friday Flyer article.

If being accused of shooting a neighbor's pet and being hounded on social media wasn't bad enough, the falsely accused man then had to put up with intimidation from a crowd of local residents. Not to mention many far flung places too.

The story made it's way to KTLA, then went viral. It was found at FOX 13 Salt Lake City, the U.K. website Dailymail, and Georgia Newsday.

He had the courage to go and and speak directly to the crowd outside his home (presumably his neighbors), something that an innocent person would think a reasonable move, but when people are driven by emotion instead of logic things don't always work out as planned.

An officer on the scene had to intervene.
Additional quote from the Friday Flyer article.

This trickled down to the local Facebook pages and someone suggested that "False accusations should be considered criminal acts."
No need for this to be a federal case when a civil case will more than make the point. That's what the courts are for, and this sure seems to be a solid case of libel if ever there was one involving neighbor v neighbor.

Facebook is the prevailing mode of societal communication these days, and just like crank/prank calls of the past were part and parcel of that world, internet trolls are part of the modern one.

With that said, if Wildomar Rap comes up with a humdinger of a silly story, and you notice it's April 1st, do the math.

Still, if and when that glorious day comes, such 'stories' will be clearly marked as a joke, just in case your senses aren't up to snuff that day. ☺

•          •          •

When I was a kid, among the other embarrassing things I would do, and there's a list of stupid things, but I would make these dumb comedy tapes. I would often make prank phone calls, but I would also do it with friends.
– J.J. Abrams

Wildomar Rap thinks that the pranks that kids did on the phone in the 1970's don't quite measure up to what happens everyday on social media. 

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