EDITORIAL: Social nonsense

Recent non-incident shows why Parksville Qualicum Beach residents should be wary about news items reported only on social media sites

Social media is a great way to keep in touch with friends and family.

As a source for news, it can be dangerous and irresponsible.

There, we said it. While we make mistakes, the news you read in The NEWS has at least been vetted and checked to some degree, and produced by trained and experienced professionals (who labeled the front page Tuesday with a Thursday banner, we know, we know).

There are no such safeguards in place on Facebook or Twitter.

This became all too apparent in the last week when some people on Facebook tried to tell the story of a supposed ‘incident’ in Qualicum Bay.

An 11-year-old girl came back from a hike to the resort she was visiting with her family and said she was attacked by a man.

Cue the nonsense on Facebook:

A shared post detailed the story of the assault and even posted a description of the supposed perpetrator. This was a day after the original Facebook poster of this misinformation provided a description and told people to be on the lookout and call 911 if this horrible man was spotted.

Thing is, there was no man. There was no assault. The 11-year-old girl made the whole thing up. After speaking to both the resort owner and a member of the RCMP, we reported the actual truth of the matter in our Tuesday paper.

We would like to think that treatment of this ‘story’ is a better example of how to present “credible information,” a term used by Facebook posters to describe what they were sharing in regards to this (non) incident.

Facebook is great. We use our page to present thousands of photos from community events, or to give away prizes through contests, or direct people to stories or opinions in our printed product or our website. But well-meaning people who are trying to share information that turns out to be bogus can cause more harm than good.

We hope residents will use this tale as an example of just how much you can trust (not) news items that come exclusively from social media sites.

— Editorial By John Harding