SHEBOYGAN -- Sheboygan police are urging community members to refrain from sharing unconfirmed information online. The warning comes after three reports of threats targeting Sheboygan-area schools this week.
Social media can be a powerful tool when it comes to spreading information quickly, and to a big audience. But when that information is unconfirmed, Sheboygan police say it makes their investigations that much more difficult.
"We have to make sure that something is not going to occur. Whether it be false or definitely true, so when it's false, we're
continually trying to get to the source of the original information," said Sheboygan Police Captain James Veeser.
In the wake of three reports of threats directed toward North High School, South High School and Urban Middle School this week, Captain James Veeser says in each case the young suspects posted their message online and followers then sent the post to their followers.
While none of the incidents turned out to be credible, meaning investigators found no evidence an act of violence would or could be carried out, Veeser says the damage has already been done.
"As people spread that around the community, it causes fear and we don't want that to happen," Veeser said.
Veeser urges both students and parents to pause before clicking the share button, and instead notify district administrators or local authorities when they come across alarming information.
"What we want to do is make sure the information is going to the appropriate people so they can start to investigate," said Veeser.
Charges are now pending against the two suspects.
Sheboygan police released the following:
Although these threats did not represent any real danger to our community, a large number of people suffered needless anxiety because of them. We want people to understand the best way to handle these kinds of posts. The right course of action is to report threats to the proper authorities. This may be a parent, school staff, or the police.
What you should not do is continue to share these posts on social media. There is a significant difference between talking to someone in person about a situation, and spreading that information (often from unknown sources) to all of your friends. That is how fear spreads rapidly through an entire community.
We want people to be smart and to be safe. If you see something, say something! But we also have to make sure we’re not helping to spread fear. We realize most people are not trying to spread fear but only want to make people aware of a possible threat. But these kinds of posts are appropriately considered “viral.” If you were sick you’d go to the doctor, you wouldn’t go to your friend’s birthday party and sneeze all over their cake.