Mass firing rumors in the Facebook Group shows, private chats are not risk-free

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Ahead of the annual Blueberry Festival, Marshall County, Indiana, at the beginning of September, as a woman, to broadcast a warning to her neighbors at Facebook.

FILE PHOTO: Facebook logo is reflected in the glass in this image illustration of April 1, 2019 at the latest. (REUTERS photo/Akhtar Soomro/Illustration

“I’ve just heard that there is supposed to be a mass shooting tonight at the fireworks,” the woman, whose name has been taken in order to protect her privacy, according to a post in a private Facebook Group with over 5,000 members. “It’s probably just a rumour or are children trying to scare people, but everyone has to keep their eyes open,” she said in a post that was later deleted.

There were no pictures of the Blueberry Festival and in the night, the local police said that there was no danger.

However, the message sparked fears in the community, with some of the members of the group have to cancel their plans to attend, and it shows the power of the same name, in Facebook Groups, which often have their own, or be closed to members of the public. Groups can be members of the society to spread and may be incorrect info, and for users who rely on the word of their neighbors.

Of these groups, and other private functions, instead of the public feed, “the future of social media-Facebook Inc Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said in April, with the unveiling of their importance to Facebook’s business model.

The threat of misinformation is spreading rapidly in the Groups and demonstrates a potential vulnerability in a key component of the growth strategy of the company. It could push Facebook to invest in costly human population, the surveillance and the risk of a restriction of the ability to access real-time, which is a major benefit of the Groups and of Facebook in general that has attracted millions of users on the platform.

When asked if Facebook will take responsibility for situations, such as those in gary, Indiana, a company spokesperson said that it is committed to the maintenance of the groups as well as a good place to be, and that it encourages people to get in touch with law enforcement if they are a potential threat.

Facebook Groups can also be used as a tool for connecting with social communities and around the world, including ethnic groups, graduates of the college and the home.

Facebook’s WhatsApp, the messaging platform faces a similar, but more severe, problems in 2018, after the false reports about the child’s captors, led to the beatings of more than a dozen people in India, some of whom have passed away. WhatsApp is later restricted call ahead and started the book from the forwards to quell the risk of false news.


The Blueberry Festival is the post that caused chaos in the group, by the name of “the Local News for about 2…(the Marshall and the surrounding Counties).”

In another post, which garnered more than 100 responses, confusion and worry, other members pointed out, in the woman’s in order to report the threat to the police. “This is not something to joke about or lightly,” she wrote.

The author of the original message and did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Facebook’s policy is to use language that “incites or facilitates a serious force,” the company spokesperson said, adding that it is not in the file, and that it is not in conflict with Facebook’s policies, because “there is no danger, the glory and support of violence.”

John Siddall, who is the founder of the Indiana group, said that they were happy with the tools in Facebook to get her to give you a greater control over what people post in the group, for example, the warnings on the page, moderators, and posts with certain words or phrases.

But Siddall said: “I’m sorry, but this is a full-time job is to sit there and monitor everything what happens on the page.”

A Facebook spokeswoman said the page administrator, have the ability to remove a post if it is in conflict with the company’s own rules and regulations, and that the administrators can pre-approve a message, as well as the spin on the pole, and the approvals for the individual members of the group.

In a post on his blog, on Facebook urged the administrators to write that “a large group of lines to be” on, “sets the tone for your party and help you to avoid member conflicts” and to “provide a sense of safety and security for all members of the group.”

David Bacon, head of the police department the Plymouth Police department, Marshall County, said the threat was being investigated, and can be traced back to the excessive noise of the children. However, he said that in the post on the Facebook group, “what is the root cause of the issue.”

“In a post will grow and people will see it, and do not take it as gospel, when in fact, you can do anything you want in there,” Bacon said.

Report by Bryan Pietsch; Editing by Chris Sanders

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