Friday, December 6, 2019

White Van Hysteria

CNN Reports on the latest viral panic:
Terrifying rumors initially propelled by Facebook's algorithms have sparked fears that men driving white vans are kidnapping women all across the United States for sex trafficking and to sell their body parts. While there is no evidence to suggest this is happening, much less on a national, coordinated scale, a series of viral Facebook posts created a domino effect that led to the mayor of a major American city issuing a warning based on the unsubstantiated claims.

The latest online-induced panic shows how viral Facebook posts can stoke paranoia and make people believe that spotting something as common as a white van, can be deemed suspicious and connected to a nationwide cabal.

"Don't park near a white van," Baltimore Mayor Bernard "Jack" Young said in a TV interview on Monday. "Make sure you keep your cellphone in case somebody tries to abduct you."

The mayor said he had not been told of the apparent threat by Baltimore Police but said it was "all over Facebook." . . .

Indeed, while there is no hard evidence of any such phenomenon in Baltimore, unconfirmed reports of suspicious white vans in Baltimore and other cities across the US have been shared hundreds of thousands of times on Facebook in recent weeks and have been seen by potentially millions of Facebook users. At least one person who drives a white van has reported being harassed for it as a result of the rumors.
Let's feed the fire by all posting that we're seeing suspicious white vans driven by tall, slender men in black. That ought to shake things up.


G. Verloren said...

This is Facebook handing megaphones to people shouting "Fire!" in a crowded theatre.

It needs to be illegal, and Facebook needs to suffer severe consequences.

Shadow said...

Let's not forgot the D.C. sniper, who until he was caught was supposed to be a white guy in a white van. Clint something-or-Other, retired FBI profiler, was pushing the theory on(I think) NBC. Everyone was on the lookout for a white van. And while this story is some sort of hoax, the infamy of the white van lives on, partly because, I believe, it is the most popular color for vans.