On Feb. 4, 2004, Facebook was launched, and it changed the way the world communicated forever — we just didn’t know it yet.
Although other forms of social media were already out, Six Degrees and MySpace to name a couple, it was Facebook that revolutionized online communication and interaction.
In today’s ultra-connected society, it is commonplace to see the people around us staring at their phones scrolling through some form of social media. Staying connected, interacting, sharing and voicing opinions is now the new normal for Americans and the world.
Over the last couple years, I started to notice a new and unsettling trend of people reporting emergencies through social media. Last month, the Fort Bragg Public Affairs Office received a phone call from another social media manager, who received a message about a threat on a building.
When this person called the office, it was already a week past when the message was sent. Instead of calling 911 immediately, this caller contacted us and asked what to do.
Social media is not for reporting emergencies!
In early 2016, the Fort Bragg Facebook page received a message from a Soldier who, after speaking with a friend, was very concerned his friend was going to commit suicide and looking to harm himself.
This message was sent late on a Friday evening and was not seen until the following Monday. I immediately responded.
I then picked up the phone to call the Soldier’s chain of command. Thankfully, this Soldier did not have the chance to harm himself, thanks to his battle buddies who were looking out for him.
Social media is not for reporting emergencies!
Last month, a group of five teenagers in Florida filmed a man who was drowning and was calling out for help.
The teens laughed and heckled him. Instead of calling 911, the man eventually drowned, and the video was posted to social media. According to the Washington Post, “Jamel Dunn, 32, drowned July 9 in Cocoa, a coastal city east of Orlando.
The teenagers, ages 14 to 16, filmed the incident as they laughed and mocked Dunn, then posted the video to social media.”
Social media is not for reporting emergencies!
I’m provided with the opportunity to interact and have discussions with hundreds of people each and every day because I run social media for a large organization like Fort Bragg.
On occasion, my team has even reached millions of people through a single post. Fort Bragg’s social media platforms have become the first stop for installation and unit information, especially for weather and installation updates, major events and the ever important “are the gyms open” questions.
However, during times of emergency, social media is not the right way to report them. Grab your cell phone and call 911.
Social media is not for reporting emergencies!