Expert: Rumors on social media can have dangerous consequences

Expert: Rumors on social media can have dangerous consequences

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A local social media expert says a deadly shooting at a downtown Charleston apartment complex is proof how rumors on sites such as Twitter and Facebook can break the bond between police and the community.

After word got out that 19-year-old Denzel "Jaba" Curnell was shot to death after a confrontation with a police officer at Bridgeview Village last Friday, rumors started flying on social media about how it apparently happened.

Some people wrote on Twitter that the officer involved in the confrontation with Curnell shot him in the back.

But the coroner released a statement saying Curnell was shot in the head and not the back.

"A tweet can actually be sent out faster than an earthquake tremor can be felt," said Ashley T. Caldwell, CEO of the social media marketing firm The Modern Connection.

Caldwell says social media is a powerful tool to spread information and that it's very difficult to weed out fact from fiction.

"Social media has tremendous ability to spread virally and unfortunately we can't control what messages are spread whether they're true or not," Caldwell said.

A case in point, a video that was posted on You Tube before this year's Atlantic Beach Bikefest.

In the video, someone said bikers were allowed to do whatever they wanted during the event, and that there were no rules.

Three people from the Tri County area wound up getting shot and killed.

Then there was the story about a three year old girl who was kicked out of a KFC in Mississippi because of scarring on her face.

A report now indicates it could be a hoax made up by a family member.

"She absolutely was pulling on people's heartstrings, thinking how could somebody behave so poorly and treat this little girl so terribly and that's causing people to share it," Caldwell explained.

Caldwell has some advice for all of us. Consider the source of a social media post before sharing it.

Otherwise, folks may wind up getting false information.

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