LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Social media lit up by rumors of violence taking over the city. Police took the threats seriously. Thousands of others did too. But the entire thing turned out to be a joke, a post by a high school student that went too far.
The University of Louisville's Digital Media Director Jeff Rushton explained that it was because of the post's ambiguity. It never clarified whether it was real or not. That unknown had many people nervous. Now add all the activity on police scanners about home invasions, robberies and assaults - calls which police add up to just another Friday night.
About 100,000 people were glued to police scanners the evening the purge was supposed to have taken over. They waited to see if the purge was real.
From 10 p.m. to 4 in the morning Metro Safe handled 181 more calls for service than the Friday before. They did cite some as being purge related. But the chatter turned out to be just that. LMPD reported no real trouble.
The influx of calls had some who were listening convinced violence was taking over. So how did a post from a high school kid create a Facebook frenzy? Experts told us it's because of three words.
"Like, share and comment," Rushton said.
He tracked the tweets and posts since Tuesday and says social media can be a vessel for posts like these because of how easy it is to share information whether it's true or not. The recent bout of teen violence in the city didn't help either.
"It became something that people created their own stories out of and the unfortunate truth of the matter is that it's Twitter, it's Facebook, it's social media," he explained.
Louisville Purge trended nationally and internationally on Twitter.
To avoid being duped, Rushton says to use services like Topsy to trace the history of a post or tweet to find out how serious it may be.
"Don't assume that what you see on TV, what you see on the internet especially is always true, go do some homework," he said.
Some people asked us on our Facebook page why were not reporting on the information being transmitted through the scanner. WAVE 3 News does not report scanner chatter before confirming the information with authorities first because many times, as in some of Friday night's cases, the calls turn out to be unfounded.