A closer look at Wednesday's rumors of violent protests in Tallahassee

Published: Jun. 4, 2020 at 11:16 PM EDT
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By: Jacob Murphey | WCTV Eyewitness News

June 4, 2020

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) –The images of Wednesday's protest in Tallahassee tell the story. Hundreds marching together, peaceful and purposeful from start to finish.

But the day wasn't without tension and concern. By midday, rumors swirling on social media suggested out-of-town agitators were set to arrive by the busload. As WCTV reported, those rumors were absolutely untrue.

One of the rumors focused on the Walmart off Kerry Forrest Parkway in Northeast Tallahassee. Ursula Harvey was a shopper there Thursday evening. She saw bits and pieces of the rumors, and said she was upset someone would spark fear instead of hope.

"Targeting our area or any area with violence is not going to help with the true meaning of what the protesters are doing," she said.

While the large crowd still gathered Wednesday, marching through downtown streets, some perhaps stayed home out of an abundance of caution.

Blake Dowling is the CEO at Aegis Business Technologies. He's constantly studying how social media shapes our world, especially in recent weeks.

"We saw social media create a frenzy that really did everyone in our community a disservice," he said. "It's up to us to do our part, too. Don't retweet or share something until substantiating it."

Florida State School of Information Professor Paul Marty, who spoke with WCTV on Monday on the general topic of social media trends, said there are certain pitfalls to watch out for.

"There's simply so much going on, on every social media channel" he said. "Everybody is equal, everybody can post their message out there, but that means you're going to have to wade through that information."

Several businesses in the Kerry Forrest Pkwy area told WCTV they either locked their doors or sent staff home early just to be safe until they knew what was going on.

Thankfully, nothing happened.

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