JUNE 5, 2014
There's some weird people on social media

Social media is a fascinating thing. While I choose to avoid it at all costs – or, as much as I can given my profession – it is interesting to watch how a story unfolds when everyday people are the reporters.

Wednesday night the country was gripped by the sad news of RCMP officers being shot and killed in New Brunswick. As I watched the live news coverage on TV I noticed that CBC continually threw to a reporter in Vancouver who rehashed the same information about Twitter every 10 minutes.

She talked about what was trending and how people all over the world were using hashtags about Moncton. Had it not been for the focus on social media I wouldn’t have thought to go to Twitter or Facebook to get my unverified second-hand information. Instead, I went to the taxpayer-funded CBC, right?

While I applaud the RCMP for using Twitter as a way to get information to the community – since it was in lockdown and they were telling people to hide in their basement – it makes perfect sense how social media is helpful in a situation like this.

But within an hour of the story breaking – that’s right, in less than 60 minutes – there were already community and “public figure” fan pages on Facebook dedicated to the suspect. One of the pages had 400 “likes” meaning people were endorsing it or at least saying they supported the page.

What was comical – and by that I mean the idiocy of people online, I am not suggesting anything about the cop murders is funny – was that clearly the pages were created to generate a reaction and public outrage – and Facebook users played into it and ranted and raved that the page maker will be charged because it was reported to police and Facebook. (Charged with what? I’m not sure.)

Not that I am saying making a mockery out of a tragic event is the right thing to do but these people with nothing better to do on a Wednesday night are wanting to have fun and play online and hundreds of people took the bait. What’s my advice: don’t engage in lashing out at them because the people behind the pages are wanting that attention.

So for those of you who aren’t on Facebook or Twitter: Good thinking. It’s probably one of the smartest decisions you’ve ever made. Besides, you’re already paying for the CBC so you might as well get your information from there!
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