Another tragedy – news and information via social media

By: Scott Stein, VP of Client Services, Leonard & Finco Public Relations, Inc.

Another tragic mass shooting in the United States and this one a lot closer to home, right here in Wisconsin. Like everyone else, I was in horror and left wondering why.

As a former news reporter I found myself glued to the media – both social and traditional – on Sunday afternoon. I’m guessing that many people felt as I did that information was coming slowly, but given the circumstances that was completely understandable. Police agencies can’t provide a lot of answers when they don’t have those answers themselves.
What was troubling, beyond the senseless attack itself, were some of the tweets that were posted as the situation developed. I won’t even go into those who were trying to cash in on the hashtag (#templeshooting) with business and other objectionable tweets. There was a lot of misinformation in the Twitter world that only added confusion, including a lot speculation about whether there was more than one shooter and how many victims had been shot.
There’s no doubt that the social media played a significant role in spreading the news of what was happening in Oak Creek. My hope is that people take their social media roles seriously so that Twitter and other sites don’t become avenues for spreading misinformation that seems to grow with every retweet.
As we continue to offer our thoughts and prayers to those in Oak Creek and the entire Sihk community, let’s remember that we all have a responsibility to carefully consider our roles in spreading “news” in the social media world.

Were you tuned to the social media for updates? What did you think?