The rumour mill has a new weapon in its arsenal for spreading speculations, fear and misinformation: the internet.
Rumours passed on by word of mouth, in person, or on the phone are damaging enough, but now gossip, lies and partial truths can reach hundreds of people with just a simple sentence online.
This past week was a case in point. Rumour had it that an escaped murderer with two missing fingers was prowling around Port McNeill. Another rumour reported there had been an attempted kidnapping of a woman by a stranger at the mall in Port Hardy. Both stories were untrue. But that didn’t stop people from spreading speculation and fear on Facebook.
Very few questioned the information, or tried to verify it with police. No one called the newspaper.
Rumours usually start with speculation. For example, there are a lot of police cars in town so they must be looking for someone. Or they could just be here for a meeting, see page 4.
As this week’s edition of the Gazette attests, we have plenty of real and important stories to talk about on the North Island. Stories that are verified.
If you hear a rumour, before you post it online, check it out. Call the appropriate authorities or give the Gazette a call. We’d be happy to look into it.