U.S. CAPITAL ROCKED BY WILD RUMOURS
Police’s bid to send alert on missing teens ends up with false news spreading, increased racial tensions
WASHINGTON for missing young people”.
It appeared that they achieved their goal, and some. The posts went viral, aggregated by users and shared online hundreds of thousands of times.
However, sign of the heated interest in the topic, many posts strayed into falsehoods about kidnappings and human trafficking, along with accusations of media purposely ignoring the issue.
Emotions peaked with an Instagram post that stated, erroneously, that “14 girls have gone missing in DC in the last 24 hours”.
Since then, social networks have been lit up with false rumours, under hashtags like #BringBackOurGirls, #missingDCgirls and #Findourgirls.
Several players from the National Basketball Association’s Washington Wizards shared the false information on social media, contributing to its spread.
The false news found root in fertile soil — many black Americans feel news pertaining to them doesn’t receive the same coverage as events affecting white Americans.
The city’s Police Department found itself caught in a tornado of publicity, and was peppered with questions at a public meeting in a predominantly black neighbourhood last week.
Although the federal government is frequently in the news, the capital’s black neighbourhoods don’t typically get much coverage. The city is predominantly black (48 per cent), followed by whites (36 per cent) and Hispanics (10 per cent).
Facing accusations of a coverup or not taking enough action, authorities here held a press conference on Friday.
“The number of reported missing persons is not going up,” said Chanel Dickerson, the head of the Police Department’s Investigative Services Bureau, Youth and Family Services Division.
“In fact, statistics show the number of missing minors here staying relatively stable, between 2,200 and 2,400 each year.”
Approximately 95 per cent of the cases are closed, with the missing person either found or returning home on their own. A white horse and a brown mule running across Interstate 680, east of San Francisco, on Monday. Steve Burdo with Contra Costa County Animal Services says the horse, a gelding named Striker, appears to have led the breakout through a fence about 1.6km away, whereas Hank the mule is more of a follower. Authorities shut down the highway as motorists shot videos and officers rounded up the four-legged fugitives .