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Social media made officials’ jobs more difficult during UTHS lockdown

Superintendent Jay Morrow said he heard some “pretty outlandish” accounts of what was going on.

EAST MOLINE, Illinois-- East Moline Police and United Township High School administrators say misinformation on social media made finding the facts more difficult during a lockdown at UTHS last week.

East Moline Police Chief John Reynolds said officers had to sift through stories and information they were hearing from potential witnesses, and some of those stories were influenced by falsehoods from Facebook and Twitter.

"We had to go with what we knew instead of what was out there on social media," Reynolds said. "That made it difficult."

He said he understands that parents want to find out what's going on during a lockdown and that they often turn to social media.

Many parents and relatives posted about what they thought was going on at the high school Friday, Aug. 17.

Some had heard there was a gunman outside the school. Others thought police had caught the suspect. Some said it was a student, others an adult.

Superintendent Jay Morrow said the school doesn't have enough resources or time during a lockdown to "monitor and dispell misinformation."

He said some people will take rumors and run with them, snowballing the false stories.

"They're trying to get information out," Reynolds said, "but the misinformation does cause even more alarm."

During tense situations, like lockdowns, Reynolds said people shouldn't share information on social media that hasn't been verified by law enforcement or a school district.