by G. Brown
All weekend long, there was no escaping headlines of outrage about 10…14…20 missing girls in and around Washington D.C. and nobody was doing anything about it. One headline screamed, “The FBI Can Find Tom Brady’s Jersey, So Why Can’t They Find the #MissingDCGirls?
It was a story that seemingly came out of nowhere igniting rage and conjuring up decades old memories of the Atlanta child murders. The stories began building last week when D.C. police began posting about missing girls. The postings were part of D.C.’s police department efforts to generate more publicity about missing teens so the department began utilizing social media like Twitter and Facebook to post about old cases of missing teens. A police spokesperson said, “We’ve just been posting them on social media more often”. But once the police posts hit social media, they took on a life of their own—went viral and caused a panic. Re-postings of the story took facts and soon they were turned into fiction….
Finally, a reporter who had written about some of the missing girls finally interceded to calm the crowds passing around the wrong information.
The facts are teens are missing and not just from the D.C. area. Sadly, the concern over the disappearances of these girls got caught up in the frenzy of fake news. As the reality of the absurdness of the fake situation settles and people realize that its not 14 or 20 girls who disappeared in a week or the last two weeks, the public concern and outcry for these girls will disappear as well—that is the harm that “fake news” causes. People go from clocking 120 all the way down to -120 on the concern factor when they learn the news isn’t 20 girls missing in 24 hours; but is it less sensational— that 14 girls disappeared over the span of years. The girls are still real…still very much missing, but since it was only at the rate of one per month between 2015-2017 then it’s not worth getting worked up about it seems.
We have to be more careful about information we share with our friends and family online in this current environment. ‘Pizzagate child pedo rings’, ‘Dave Chappelle’s been cloned’ and ‘Hillary Clinton dying of Parkinson’s disease’ are all “fake news” and conspiracy theories floating around right now on the internet. At a time when our nation’s leader is even prone to share “fake news” like former president Obama tapped phones at Trump Tower only to finally be forced to admit he was wrong by saying well someone told me that, we should aim higher individually.
We don’t need fake news robbing us of our peace, intelligence and energy. There are plenty of horrible stories that will unfortunately prove to be factual news.