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Social media isn’t a police report

A sad consequence of the invasion of social media into our everyday lives is that we can begin to think the entire world revolves around our favorite social media site.

With the rash of threats against schools lately, along with other incidents, the common refrain, “If you see something, say something” has been expanded to “If you see something, sense something, hear something, say something.”

But it seems people of all ages need to be reminded that “say something” doesn’t mean to post it on Facebook or Snapchat. It means to inform the police or another appropriate authority figure.

Many students at local schools informed school officials about recent safety-related threats and incidents, and that was the absolute best thing they could have done.

However, unfortunately, many people shared the threats on social media and inadvertently escalated the panic. School officials are now encouraging people not to share or repost these threats but to report them.

Other recent incidents both in Suffolk and in neighboring cities have underscored the importance of calling police when something seems to be off. Too often, folks post Facebook, Nextdoor or some other site to warn their community of potential crimes but don’t ever notify the police, who need to know about it in order to thwart the occurrence of a crime, to investigate a crime that may have already taken place and to arrest those responsible.

As much as we might like to think that social media encompasses the entire world, our Facebook pages are not, in fact, a direct line to 911 operators; Snapchat posts do not automatically get shared with school officials; and Nextdoor posts don’t automatically investigate, arrest and charge that suspicious guy who’s been lurking around your neighborhood.

So, yes, if you see something, say something. But don’t say it just on social media; say it with a timely report to authorities who can actually do something about it.