HELENA — After a tragic and emotional event like this week’s school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, we again saw how fast misinformation can spread. MTN encourages people to take a pause and verify before sharing posts concerning the shooting online to help curb the spread of misinformation.
Shortly after the news broke Tuesday, some were making unsubstantiated claims the shooter was a white supremacist due to Uvalde’s predominantly Hispanic population. As of Wednesday morning, police have not released any information about the potential motive of the shooter. All police have confirmed is that shooter was an 18-year-old named Salvador Romas. He had been a student in the school district and he died on Tuesday.
Other misinformation spreading are unsupported allegations that the shooter was transgender, with posts proliferating on social media with photos of a transgender person unrelated to the attack. Even sitting U.S. Congressman Paul Gosar, R-AZ, spread the misinformation, although he has since deleted the post.
Misinformation online often tries to play to people’s emotions, which is why it gets shared so frequently, even when the information is false.
Another thing to remember is during break news situations, information evolves as officials investigate the situation and release further details. Look for articles with verified sources and check the time the article was published to make sure it is the most up-to-date.
In the case of the texas school shooting, look to recent press conferences from the Uvalde Police Department since they are the ones investigating the incident.
When sharing anything online, take a pause and don’t share it immediately. Can the claim be verified? Check to if the same information is reported from other reliable news sources or check verified accounts of officials directly involved in the situation.
Also, think about the impact sharing a meme or post might have if it is false, or if the person pictured isn’t involved in the incident.
Anyone can be fooled, but there are steps we can all take to help prevent misinformation from spreading.