Communication is important – Where and how is the key

We see broken telephone all too often on social media and in emergency response groups. Posts that are taken from somebody else, copied and pasted a couple of hundred times and purported to be a current threat to people’s safety.

There is no denying the power of social media, we’ve demonstrated it here previously, but just remember that that power can be both positive and negative.

It’s critically important that should you decide to post about an incident on social media, assuming of course that you have first alerted the relevant emergency response agency, e.g. fire, SAPS, law enforcement, your SSP etc., please try and remember to include the following non negotiables (as far as we’re concerned) in your post.

1) Make sure that you clearly state whether or not you witnessed the incident first hand or are you passing on a message from somebody else. Did you hear it directly from the person who witnessed it or has the message passed from somebody who heard it from somebody else who heard it from somebody else? (This can often affect the accuracy of information (broken telephone)).

2) What time did you witness the incident? Sometimes there’s an extended period of time between seeing and posting and with criminal activity things can change from one minute to the next so accurate times is vitally important, both for public safety and also for properly coordinating emergency response.

For example, “At 13h00 on 21 May 2018 I personally witnessed 4 people (be as descriptive as possible) set tyres alight at the corner of pillow and duvet. There were no emergency services in the area at the time.”

Also important to remember is if you’re going to share posts on Facebook use the share link (when it is available), so that the source of information can be traced, but most importantly, should information change and the original post gets updated, it will get updated wherever the post has been shared. This won’t be possible if you copy and paste the contents of the original post and create your own.

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