As I catch myself using social media to obtain news more often, I find myself wondering how much of my information is actually true.
Over the last week and a half, the hashtag #wherearethechildren started spreading around social media. This is in regards to the reports that United States federal authorities lost track of 1,500 migrant children that were attempting to cross the US/Mexico border.
There has been a lot of confusion surrounding this issue - how can the government just lose 1,500 children?
There has been a spread of false information and claims that these children were being separated from their parents. People took to social media and brought attention to the issue.
Last month, an official with the Department of Health and Human Services spoke out saying that a federal agency had lost track of 1,475 minors who had crossed the border on their own and been placed with adult sponsors here in the U.S. These children were not being separated from their families, but came here alone. The children were claimed to be lost because the government, for whatever reason, wasn’t able to get into contact with the sponsors.
The way that the information was being spread on social media made it seem like these children were being separated from their parents and then the government suddenly lost track of where they had gone.
The entire situation made me think about how easy it is to get caught up in all of the information that is spread around the internet, but how it’s important to make the effort to go through and fact check information.
However, there are children who end up being torn away from their parents at the border when they are caught by authorities. The confusion and unintentional linkage between this and the 1,500 migrant children, might be overshadowing that issue.
Early in May, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that every person crossing the southwest border illegally would be prosecuted, no matter the circumstance. Then the children are taken away, some even ultimately being rendered as unaccompanied minors when that may not be the case, and have little hope of getting into contact with their parents.
It’s so easy to see a Tweet or post on Facebook and start spreading the information you read without actually digging deep into it.
When I see things like that, my first instinct is to always retweet or share the information, but stopping to take that extra couple of minutes to actually look into it can go a long way.