SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — Separating fact from fiction, that’s what the city of San Marcos is trying to do when it comes to rumors on social media. The city has gone as far as creating a “rumor patrol” page on their website. The city says this is their attempt at being more transparent with the public.
“It all started back during the floods,” said San Marcos Director of Communications Kristi Wyatt. “Anytime there is a disaster, rumors run rampant and people start talking about what they think they saw and what they think they heard and a lot of that information just isn’t accurate.”
On Tuesday, when a Facebook post about an apparent kidnapping and hostage situation outside of the IHop in San Marcos was spread to hundreds through social media, the city of San Marcos stepped in to fact check.
“We really saw it gaining momentum on Twitter and Facebook. Immediately we thought, let’s do rumor control,” said Wyatt.
Police say this specific case was far from a kidnapping or hostage situation. “It was completely different than that, the person was well-intentioned in what they were describing. You could interpret that that is what was happening, but that’s not the case,” said Wyatt.
Police say this case was only an argument between a boyfriend and girlfriend and there were only minor injuries. Wyatt says it’s posts like this that make her work daily to separate fact from fiction.
“Sometimes it’s, ‘We heard there was a shooting at an apartment complex’ and we’ll call the police department and they’ll say ‘no, we did go out there to check on someone’s well being,’ or ‘we did go out there and the lights were flashing, but there were no shootings and no arrests,’” said Wyatt.
Which is why she helped create Rumor Patrol, a page designated on the city’s website to crush rumors before they get started.
“If our residents don’t trust us then we can’t do our jobs well and we don’t have a productive city,” said Wyatt. “I think it really starts with us sharing accurate information, honest information and that we are doing it quickly.”