How to use social media responsibly in the fight against crime

2019-05-08 06:01

SOCIAL media has many benefits and provides a wealth of information to keep users in the loop. These platforms have also been a valuable tool in the fight against crime. There are, however, many drawbacks that users may not be aware of.

Neighbourhood watch groups (such as on WhatsApp) create a platform where pertinent information can be shared instantaneously. However, participants should ensure they only upload and share verified information, says Charnel Hattingh, National Marketing and Communications Manager for Fidelity ADT.

“Knowing how to differentiate between a real news story (or post) and a counterfeit one, will help to stop the dissemination of fake stories or rumours.

“Use these sites and platforms responsibly to create a space where only reliable information is shared,” she explains.

Fake social media accounts thrive on posting sensationalised articles and feature stories which are laden with varying degrees of dishonest claims.

“It is crucial to be able to spot the difference between these types of viral posts,” says Hattingh.

“These types of fake accounts masquerade as a legitimate news source and can be difficult to spot, but there are ways to identify the deception,” says Hattingh.

Dishonest news sites usually include catchy and outrages headlines to attract large volumes of readers.

“These forms of clickbait play on people’s curiosity with far-fetched claims. If you are to come across a headline like this, it is best not to click on it or let alone share it,” recommends Hattingh.


• Apart from questionable headlines and images, is the reporter’s name in the by-line?

• If you have found an author, check if they have written any other articles.

• Always check for multiple sources. Have you seen this story featured on other reputable sites?

• Fake sites will often pose as a popular news site, using its name and link. This is achieved by substituting a letter, which tricks audiences into mistakenly thinking it’s the well-known news organisation. — Supplied.


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