#truestory - or fake news?

A shocking pic of a 4-year-old forced to sleep on the floor of an over-crowded local hospital sparked a social media storm last week. But was it real or just another case of fake news going viral?

And what does it all tell us about truth, trust and the power of disinformation in the Age of Social Media?

When four-year-old Jack Williment-Barr was rushed to Leeds Hospital by ambulance last week with suspected pneumonia, mum Sarah was informed there was a bed shortage, and her child would need to sleep on the floor. 

Sarah snapped a pic of her little boy, hooked up to an IV drip and asleep on a pile of coats, and sent it to the Yorkshire Evening Post. The local paper reported on the incident and featured the photo prominently.

In that article, Sarah, a teacher’s aide, reported that hospital staff were "all as helpful as they could be" in explaining the overcrowded conditions, and added that the head of the hospital offered her a personal apology. Jack, meanwhile, finally got a bed 13 hours after being admitted.

All’s well that end’s well, right? If only.

“Very interesting,” the post read. “A friend of mine is a senior nursing sister at Leeds Hospital, and ..."

Because shortly after the newspaper report appeared, the photo was shared extensively on social media - sparking a cruel campaign to discredit Jack’s family.

It was kicked off by a post shared widely on Facebook and Twitter from a user who claimed that the photo was staged.

“Very interesting,” the message read. “A friend of mine is a senior nursing sister at Leeds Hospital.” It goes on to say that Sarah had deliberately placed her son on the floor.

The accusation was a complete fiction.

Jack with oxygenJack  was diagnosed with Influenza A and tonsillitis by doctors and was discharged the following day. But the drama had only just begun for his family.

 

A UK-based group that tracks disinformation, First Draft, traced the first known post to Facebook. But when reporters reached the woman to whom it had been attributed, she told them that her account had been hacked. 

“I’ve had to delete everything as I have had death threats to myself and my children,” she explained.  

The Evening Post itself took a battering on social media for allegedly failing to fact-check its sources

“Why don’t you just go into the hospital and ask for a statement from nurses, they will tell you! Or can’t you be bothered …?” was a typical response.

On 10 December, a week after the original article, the paper defended itself vigorously in a second piece under the banner headline DON’T BE FOOLED BY FAKE NEWS.

“Never has there been a time when journalism, the industry and our journalists have come under such scrutiny and criticism and frankly, it is worrying about the power of social media and its reach," it admonished. "The level of abuse would not be accepted on the streets and must not be tolerated."



Telling fact from fiction is hard enough for the grown-ups these days. How will too much screen-time - and not enough oversight - affect our kids?

Create a home where children thrive, and start your free trial right now.

Tell me more!

Topics: Parental Controls, Screen time, Mobile Apps, cyberbullying, disinformation, fake news

    Try Family Zone for FREE

    Sign up now to try Family Zone for 1 month, totally free of charge.

    Free Trial
    Subscribe to our newsletter
    Follow us on social media
    Popular posts
    Parental Controls | Screen time | Mobile Apps | musical.ly | Social Media | tiktok | child development | self-harm | sexualisation
    One mum's jaw-dropping journey through TikTok
    Parental Controls | Cyber Safety | Cyber Experts | parenting | roblox
    Roblox: What parents must know about this dangerous game for kids
    Parental Controls | Screen time | youtube | smartphones | WhatsApp | suicide | self-harm | momo
    MOMO unmasked
    Parental Controls | Screen time | musical.ly | online predators | tiktok
    It's the world's most popular app. And you've probably never heard of it.
    Parental Controls | Pornography | Cyber Safety | Social Media | parenting | digital parenting
    Pornstar to parents: shame on you!
    Parental Controls | Screen time | teens on social media | wellbeing | dating app
    Swipe right for trouble: Six teen dating apps parents need to know about

    Recent posts

     
    Talk to your son about sex. He knows less than you think.

    When’s the last time you had a conversation with your teenage son about what it means to be a caring, respectful sexual partner? Or what ...

     
    Has screen-time become a battle royale in your house?

    If parental controls aren’t about controlling your child - what ARE they about?

     
    My child needs glasses. Are screens to blame?

    The impact of screen-time on our children’s vision is a topic of ongoing debate in the medical community.