We hope the police are determined to push through with their investigation and filing of charges against the administrators of the Cebu Flash Report (CFR) Facebook page in light of their recent false report about a canine distemper virus “outbreak” in Liloan town.
The CFR post extended their warning to residents living within and nearby Liloan especially dog owners whose pets may already be infected by the virus, supposedly polishing their story with the veneer of public service and urging readers/netizens to share their post to the world.
Based on what the Liloan municipal government said, especially its agriculture office, there are a few cases showing symptoms of the contagious disease, but these are isolated cases. A team from the provincial government’s health office is verifying that assertion and will hopefully come out with its findings soon.
Whether the CFR report is true or not, posting reports that concern public safety and health without citing official verified sources qualifies as rumor-mongering, which is not only a gross disservice but a dangerous tool for creating panic and chaos.
When CFR first came out with a “report” on the alleged presence of a bomb in one Lapu-Lapu City store, police teams went to the area only to find an outdated cassette player with no bomb parts whatsoever. It tried to extricate itself from responsibility in creating panic by “praising” the police team for their quick response to an emergency that never existed in the first place.
After receiving public backlash for its false bomb report, the page was supposedly shut down and replaced with another, with its administrators playing sarcastic with its critics by posting an “update” on the July 6 earthquake with the “rejoinder” that they will still verify with the proper authorities whether an earthquake did occur.
And now, this alleged Liloan canine distemper virus has gained more than 1,000 likes and shared even more, undoubtedly spreading like wildfire and creating even more panic were it not for the quick and timely response of the Liloan municipal government.
By now, a lot of netizens will probably be aware of what constitutes fake news: screaming headlines that don’t have any bearing on what is being said and only highlights certain unverified information in a way that induces shock and “violent reactions.”
But just as anybody can spread false reports of a bomb hidden in a bus and later claim, through much weeping, that they were only sharing what had been reported by an unverified source, it wasn’t difficult for this Cebu False (Flush like a toilet) Report to spread unverified stories with the hope of gaining more followers and enhancing their notoriety and whatever power they hold over what is thankfully a small portion of the population.
While the police have yet to uncover and arrest the perpetrators of this latest rumor, the public is well advised to steer clear of this CFR and other fake news social media pages for their own safety.