BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Fake social media posts are causing safety concerns in the Brownsville community and the Brownsville Police Department is making sure the public knows how to identify false claims.
Officer Martin Sandoval, the public information officer for Brownsville PD, said the issue has been happening over the last two months.
“They spread rapidly, and we get a lot of fear from the community, a lot of concern. So, number one they start sending messages through Facebook to our department, plus there is even people that start calling into our 9-1-1 and our regular admin lines, calling them, telling them ‘Oh this is what I saw, is this true?’ said Officer Sandoval.
He said the misleading posts range from claims of attackers going door to door, to the false claims of the kidnapping of a newborn from a local hospital.
Sandoval explained the claims were all proven to be false.
“This same post has been circulating nationwide through other police departments, about the same thing. Same posts, same wording, the only difference is they change the city,” he said.
As each post gets shared, Sandoval begins his investigation to debunk the fake posts and said it is as simple as doing a Google reverse image search.
“It gives me a list of all the images that pretty much are similar to it or the ones that are that actual post,” he explained.
He said the posts are all part of a scam by getting people to click on the profiles of the original posts.
The profiles show links to items for sale or homes for rent in your city.
“You click on that link it will take you to some pictures of a house or anything but what you don’t know is you just downloaded a virus to your computer,” he said.
The virus will then capture the users information.
“Before you start sharing stuff, please make sure that the information you are sharing is correct because it does cause a lot of panic, it does cause a lot of concern, and people tend to overreact sometimes when situations like this happen,” he said.
Sandoval said it is important for social media page administrators to monitor member’ posts to avoid causing panic in the community.
He said the community should only trust credile sources such as law enforcement, school districts, and media outlet pages.