News consumers should exercise judgement

Published 6:16 pm Saturday, March 11, 2017

As we have seen, it’s very easy for an individual to post an issue of some kind over social media and it become the talk of the nation for weeks on end. It’s no different here in Jefferson County where a “fake news” publicized issue can become a local “hot” topic.
On Feb. 25 of last month, what originally looked to be a concerned parent, a post was created on Facebook condemning Port Arthur Independent School District. The post share a picture of a school lunch tray with only a box of milk and two slices of bread. In short, the post further went on the state that this is how PAISD was taking care of children and what they were feeding them at lunch.
Not more than two hours later, without checking for accuracy, former city councilman John Beard shared this post across multiple political social media sites. Calling out current PAISD Board of Trustees Kenneth Lofton, Thomas Kinlaw, and Joseph Guillory for comment even before he could verify if this was true.
Had Mr. Beard done so before reacting he would have found, as we did, that the Facebook post was completely false. Viewing pictures cut from the video cameras at the school from that day, one could clearly see the individual making these accusations, sitting amongst students, with a food tray consisting of a soup, grilled cheese sandwich, a drink and other items. We cannot share this picture, as it is illegal to publish pictures of small children without consent of their parents. But believe me, the post was 100 percent inaccurate.
What the motive was that drove an individual to feel the need to create false information such as this is beyond my understanding. What is as equally concerning, is the need for those that continue to share this false information without checking it’s accuracy. To believe what you read is fact simply because it either sounds good, or the want to be the first to bring negative attention to someone or entity, can have costly ramifications if found to be slanderous or defamatory.
Although difficult right now to prove or enforce, due to the overflow of “fake news” taking flight through social media every day, government entities are currently seeking ways to legally curb this trend. I believe at some point in the near future that legal charges will begin to become commonplace against individuals that act this irresponsibly.
But until this happens, it is the responsibility of each of us to ask the questions that need to be asked. Take the time to educate ourselves on the reality of a situation and not be so eager to spread gossip.

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