JAMESTOWN, NY (WNY News Now) – A recent string of false claims in Facebook groups have caught the attention of our local police department, who are now warning against giving credence to these posts.
The Jamestown Police Department has received numerous complaints and questions about posts circulating social media regarding missing or dangerous individuals, children, jobs, and even pets.
“So we’ve had a lot of complaints about different Facebook pages and groups making posts and claims about a whole assortment of topics, some are wanted or dangerous individuals that are on the loose and a threat to the public or people in general, we’ve had posts about missing children, we’ve had posts about found children where they’ll include a picture of a child, we’ve had posts with houses that are for sale or rent that don’t even exist not only in the city of Jamestown, but maybe anywhere,” explained Community Resource Officer Matt Rhinehart.
So far, these posts are appearing in local buy, sell, and trade groups.
“We had a few different posts in the same group or by the same people that deal with found pets or lost pets and try to get people to either help find them or they’re soliciting phone numbers and trying to get people to share the posts of dogs that have been found that, again, are not found in Jamestown or probably even New York State,” Rhinehart said.
The department has tried reporting the groups, to no avail.
“We’ve tried to report the groups and we encourage people to report the posts when they see them, however we ask that you don’t report our posts about them because we’ve had issues with our own posts getting flagged for the invalidity of the contents of it,” said Rhinehart.
Police say posts like these are dangerous to the public.
“The biggest concern is that you can instill fear in the public and the citizens if people keep seeing posts about wanted or dangerous individuals, whether it pertains to the subject targeting somebody in particular or not, it can cause fear, and same with the missing children. That can just make people upset and in these situations that can happen to people for no real reason,” said Rhinehart.
The best thing you can do, Rhinehart explains, is to report and follow-up with your local police department.
“Following or sharing and furthering the passing along of information that’s inaccurate from different private accounts, personal accounts, or groups that don’t have anything to do with public safety, I would just urge people to not do so and definitely don’t spread the word about it. Perhaps if you have a question, send us an email, send the Facebook page a message, or try to get some further information on it,” Rhinehart explained.
If you have any questions about the validity of a post you see, officers urge you to screenshot the post in question and give the department a call at (716) 483-7536.