Police are warning people to be on the lookout for fake social media accounts letting people know about “active shooters”.  The warning comes after California media was trolled and completely duped by what was clearly a fake account.

The false alarm came in Truckee, California on Wednesday night.

News media responded to a tweet at about 9 p.m. that turned out to be a false alarm.

 

It appeared on the surface to be a police Twitter account and warned of an “active shooter”, sending off alarms in newsrooms.  Soon after, there were other tweets saying a suspect was in custody and another with a link to a press release.

It turns out the Twitter account was just trolling people.  The press release was fake and so was the account – both turned out to be parodies.

A closer look revealed that the handle on the account ends in RBLX1, which is an online game.  And clearly the media was fooled by the animated graphics…

 

“That’s super scary,” said a San Jose State student.  According to that student, similar false alarms have occurred on her campus.

Another man talked about the danger it creates.

“It certainly does take away from people who need help and assistance from someone else,” said another man.

But Twitter is allowing the account to remain.  Representatives for the social media company said the account meets requirements for parody accounts, because it clearly states the user is not affiliated with the subject of the account.

Officials with California Highway Patrol put out their own working.  They said it’s not a verified CHP account, and they warned people need to be cautious with accounts claiming CHP affiliation.

They said the agency is also filing a complaint.

“The idea of a fake account is a huge problem not just in the community, but in our nation,” said Deputy Rod Grassmann with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department.

It’s a problem that’s spreading, as departments are seeing more of these types of accounts pop up.

It’s lead to some agencies, like the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office, to put in place a team to monitor social media.

Grassmann stressed the importance of making sure the news and first responder sites you follow are verified.

“There is a process to get verified by which that government entity or business has to submit to documentation and govt ID to verify that account. There is a check mark right by the name that tells you it’s authentic,” Grassman said.

He said a false alarm could generate unnecessary response and public panic.

Some red flags letting you know it could be a fake account?

A high number of followers, and little engagement or accounts with attractive people or images for a profile picture that has spam content.

Or you could just look at the picture of the “active shooter” and see it’s a Lego man.  That’s typically a pretty good giveaway as well.