A fire at Complete Battery Source, 6480 Grand River Ave. in Genoa Township, just east of Dorr Road, on Tuesday, April 23, 2019, was brought under control by the Brighton Area Fire Authority in just a half hour. It took less time than that for the event to turn into false social media reports of an active shooter situation with emergency workers injured.
It became the internet version of the old telephone game, in which information changes dramatically as it spreads from person to person. The rumors — which spread quickly on Facebook — had anywhere from three to 13 police officers shot. The good/bad news is that those rumors were false.
It’s understandable that people want to keep on top of emergency situations, especially those close to home. These are scary times, to be sure, with active shooter situations becoming commonplace. Facebook is a prime place to share information. But in the case of the Complete Battery Source fire, the information spread was just not accurate.
Imagine that one of your friends or family members is a Livingston County emergency worker who could have responded to the Complete Battery Source fire. How awful to read on Facebook that people were shot in an active shooter situation during the emergency, and then wonder if it could be your loved one. How excruciating would that be?
So, the next time you hear about an emergency situation on social media, take a deep breath and do a little research before sharing or posting.
And if you want to be proactive and stay on top of official information in the case of a real emergency, there are several easy and effective ways to do that:
1. Probably the No. 1 thing you can do is sign up for a host of emergency alerts on the Livingston County Everbridge emergency alert system. It’s quick and easy: you sign up, specify the various ways you like to receive alerts, and choose which alerts you want — from public safety to road work to weather events.
I just signed up for the service, which is free, quick and easy to use. And it’s very user-friendly.
You can even specify times during which you don’t want to be disturbed.
3. Check the Livingston County Sheriff’s Office’s official Facebook page. The Livingston County Sheriff’s Office is wonderful about getting vital information out to the community, and issuing press releases and alerts as necessary.
So, while it’s understandable to want to share news of emergency events with social media contacts, we should all make it a practice to take one quick beat and verify that the information is, indeed, accurate, before posting or sharing.