LEWISTON — In the wake of violence that has rocked Lewiston in recent weeks, police say the last things people need are rumor and wild exaggeration.
Police issued an alert Wednesday advising people to be wary of believing everything they read on social media.
Of particular concern, they say, are a number of Facebook pages that present themselves as official sources of information as they report police scanner traffic and rumors of mayhem in the city.
“The Lewiston Police Department would like to caution readers about believing everything they read on various social media platforms, posts, blogs, etc,” according to the post on the Lewiston Police Facebook page.
“There are many pages I’ve recently reviewed that are not in any way affiliated with law enforcement though they may purport to be or seem legitimate due to various authentic looking graphics or logos,” according to the alert.
In May, the popular “Maine Police & Fire Alerts” Facebook page was taken down for alleged rules violations. For years, the page owner had blasted out reports of wild police scanner action around the state to his 36,000 followers.
That page never reappeared, but its creator, Gregory Powers of Sabattus, has since re-emerged behind Maine Scanner Alerts Uncensored, bringing back the same brand of high-adrenaline reporting of scanner traffic sprinkled with wild hyperbole and occasional fictions.
A handful of other social media pages have also appeared over the past year, with some putting extra focus on the Lewiston area, which has been beset by a wave of violence since the spring. Police say that while some of those Facebook pages are less credible than others, they advise people to take copious grains of salt when reading information found on any of them.
“Many posts, comments and replies I have found are nowhere near accurate,” according to the Lewiston police post. “The LPD warns readers to NOT fall prey to believe everything that is reported/posted on social media or unverified pages or sites. The dangers of misinformation from an unknown source can be far-reaching and can be cause for undue tensions in our community.”
Graphic used by the Lewiston Police Department about misinformation spread through social media posts.