Monterey County

Social media spread fear, misinformation during lockdown

False reports of an armed robber sparked campus to go on high alert


MONTEREY, Calif. - It began as rumors of an armed robber headed for campus and in minutes, the rumors became much more.

Facebook posts such as "MPC is on lockdown, apparent shooter on campus" had worried students calling and texting their parents. After several calls from those loved ones to 911 police were forced to keep MPC on lockdown and further their search, ready to respond.

Leslie Sonne lieutenant of Monterey police stated, "We can't just say we're not going to do anything because we ‘think' it's misinformation."

Monterey police said that, at the time, they really didn't know if the 65-year-old man who claimed to have been robbed at gunpoint in downtown Monterey was telling the truth.  During the investigating, though, tweets, Facebook posts, and texts escalated the situation.

Students stated that the Facebook notices kept popping up and they wanted people to know what was going on.

Law enforcement also said misinterpretation of posts on social media allow things to get out of hand.

People were rightfully calling in with concerns about their friends and loved ones, to make sure police were aware of it. Students told us they felt "in the dark" about what was happening, so they logged on to social media.

Campus leaders say that a mass notification system is in the works for situations like this.

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