Social networks become ugly again | Opinion

It’s amazing how many people don’t understand the potential consequences and possible dangers of their own actions when trying to get a few clicks on social media.

Perhaps lost in the high-profile news mix this week was a Union County newscast. State troopers responded to a call at a restaurant in Kelly Township where a Texas woman passed a note to a waiter, falsely claiming she had been kidnapped and needed help.

When state police and local officers from the Buffalo Valley Regional Police Department arrived, the woman said it was a joke. The woman didn’t think anyone would take him seriously, state police said.

The woman told police she planned to make a TikTok video of the staff reaction and post it on the video platform.

She was cited for disorderly conduct, which sounds like a slap on the wrist. Texas news outlets reporting the story said that if the woman had done the hit in Texas, she could have been charged with making a false report to cause an emergency, a misdemeanor in the Lone Star State.

Some may consider it a misguided prank. But it’s a 41-year-old woman – certainly old enough to know more – who unknowingly put lives at risk.

“Participating in trends like these on social media is no fun and can lead to serious consequences,” said Andrea Pelachick, Milton State Trooper and State Police spokesperson. “Pennsylvania State Police take these incidents seriously and a full investigation will be conducted.”

This isn’t the first time someone has used social media with what they see as benign intent, to go overboard.

Reporting on the local incident this week, Newsweek noted that students in Tennessee had been charged after they vandalized school restrooms and that four people in Pennsylvania had been charged with causing more than $10,000 in damage to school buses in videos posted on TikTok.

“We expect our community to stay safe and create responsibly, and we don’t allow content that promotes or enables criminal activity,” TikTok officials told Newsweek last fall in response to the vandalism in schools. “We are removing this content and redirecting hashtags and search results to our community guidelines to discourage such behavior.”

At its core, social media fills the gaps and keeps people connected. As with many things, it’s been hijacked by selfish narcissists looking for clicks regardless of consequences, a dangerous trend.

NOTE: Opinions expressed in editorials for The Daily Item are the consensus of the editor, key newsroom executives and editorial board community members. Today’s was written by editor Bill Bowman.

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