TRUCKEE (CBS13) — Law enforcement has to deal with imposters not only on the street but online. On Wednesday night, news media responded to a tweet turned out to be a false alarm.
The tweet came in around 9 p.m. It was a report of an “active shooter” from what initially appeared to be a CHP Truckee account, sending off alarms in newsrooms. Other tweets followed, saying a suspect was in custody and another with a link to a press release.
But a closer look revealed the press release was fake and so was the account. It’s called a parody account. Further proof is the handle on the account– which ends in RBLX1. It’s an online game.
“That’s super scary,” said a San Jose State student who said similar false alarms have occurred on her campus.
“It certainly does take away from people who need help and assistance from someone else,” said another man.
Twitter representatives said the account meets requirements for parody accounts because it clearly states the user is not affiliated with the subject of the account.
Officials with California Highway Patrol said this is not a verified CHP account and urges the public to be cautious with accounts claiming CHP affiliation. The agency is also filing a complaint.
“The idea of a fake account is a huge problem not just in the community, but in our nation,” said Deputy Rod Grassmann with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.
Law enforcement is seeing more and more of these types of accounts pop up. That is why the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office has a team to monitor social media.
Grassmann said it’s important to make sure the news and first responder sites you follow are verified.
“There is a process to get verified by which that government entity or business has to submit to documentation and govt ID to verify that account. There is a check mark right by the name that tells you it’s authentic,” Grassman said.
Because a false alarm could generate unnecessary response and public panic.
Some red flags indicating fake accounts include accounts with a high number of followers and little engagement or accounts with attractive people or images for a profile picture that has spam content.
The most important thing to look out for is the blue verified check mark by the profile name.