Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - Don't we all love Social Media? Well maybe not everyone but, based on the numbers of people on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, many do. It's a great place to keep up with family and friends near and far, share humorous and positive messages, tell of new and exciting changes in our lives and share news.
Living in Puerto Vallarta this sometimes is the way we first hear of things going on in the community. It's also a way for local businesses to share their products and for us to promote the city we love.
However, unfortunately, it can also be a place where misinformation is rapidly spread. There are no fact checks on social media sites and unfortunately some take the posts as 100% truth without knowing the other side of the story. This can lead to companies' and peoples' reputations being ruined.
It can also lead to physical and mental harassment of individuals with, in extreme cases, people receiving threats of violence against themselves and their families. It can also attempt to ruin businesses, tear apart communities, industries, and in the case of our beautiful city, its reputation as a safe place to visit and invest.
Sharing, liking and commenting on stories that we don't know the facts on can quickly hurt many. What is even more disturbing is many posts are shared by people not even living in or knowing our city, with some being professional companies whose mission is to smear reputations. This can quickly financially damage companies and people that work hard to take care of their families and the community.
What many don't know is that, at least in Mexico, false posts can lead to civil charges of defamation of character or even criminal charges of extortion and assault.
This is also important for people that administer community social media groups to know as allowing these conversations to continue could legally allow them to be charged as well.
So, next time you read a post, ask yourselves a few things. Does the story sound plausible? Do you think there may be another side to this story? What is the underlying intent of the story? What implications could there be for the people involved?
Also you may want to wonder why it has not been put on the local news if it is in fact true. Remember the media would need to fact check the story before publishing or risk legal repercussions too.
So go ahead and post pictures of your children, vacations, your dinner (although maybe not every day) and community events. Use and enjoy social media as it was meant to be, a social meeting space.
Let's all continue to use this great medium to support this amazing city, our community, and its members.