A SOCIAL media expert believes police could have reduced parents’ concerns regarding a threat made against Orange school children had they responded to Facebook comments and posted regular updates.
The rumour mill went into overdrive on Thursday after at least one school went into lockdown following an alleged threat.
Canobolas Local Area Command posted a report to their Facebook page regarding the threat, with parents’ comments including a bomb threat and that someone had a gun.
Both those claims were false, but police failed to update their previous report.
Charles Sturt University professor of information studies Lisa Given said if an organisation chooses to use social media, it must engage its users, especially in a breaking news situation.
“They could not have prevented the reaction from people, but perhaps it may have gone out in a different way,” she said.
People post whatever they hear and the rumour spreads, but if a trustworthy source, like the police, had of responded to comments denying the rumours, then it would have prevented some of them going further, Professor Given believes.
“The sooner more information can go out people will feel like something is being done about it... they will feel listened to,” Professor Given said.
If there is no information coming from an official source then people will often “fill the gap”.
Canobolas Local Area Command’s initial Facebook post did not detail the nature of the threat and Professor Given said she did not believe any further detail on that post would have prevented the panic which ensued.
The only thing which might have helped would have been regular posts and rejections of some of the rumours, she believes.
Police defended their use of the social media page and Superintendent David Driver said officers had to put the safety of the public first.