Brandon Smith Missing – A lot of posts in community Facebook groups located all across England spread the untrue information that an autistic youngster by the name of Brandon Smith and his dog Hank have gone missing. Full Fact has discovered nearly similar versions of the posts in community groups located in Doncaster, Whaley Bridge, and Gateshead. These posts all utilize the same photo of a little girl and child sitting on a log with a dog in the background.
The following is what the post says in its body: “Please HELP!!! […] My son Brandon Smith and our family pet Hank have been missing since this morning. He has autism and has not been seen for the past eight hours; if anyone sees him, please send a private message to me and re-post this message on any website.I have already been in touch with the cops.” However, they are not genuine pleas for assistance. Both the Derbyshire Police and the Northumbria Police told us that they had not received any complaints of a missing person who matched the boy’s description.
This is in addition to the fact that it is impossible for the same youngster to be reported missing from three different locations at the same time. The South Yorkshire Police Department informed us that all missing person alerts were published on their Flickr page; nevertheless, the search turned up no images that matched the description of “Brandon Smith.” We were not successful in locating the original copy of the photograph; nevertheless, law enforcement agencies in the United States had issued warnings in the past indicating that they suspected the identical picture was being used to mislead people in a comparable manner in local community organizations in the states of Minnesota and Kansas City.
In the past, we have conducted fact checks on a number of postings that use nearly precisely the same phrasing about a child who has gone missing with their dog. These posts include children who are also purportedly named Brandon Smith but include a photo of a different youngster. The fact that the comments are usually always disabled in these postings is another piece of evidence suggesting that the assertions made in them are not true. This was likely done to prevent individuals from notifying other users of the social networking platform. People who are truly looking for information are not likely to close the comments, therefore this is an indication that a post is a hoax, according to prior statements made by Derbyshire Police.
There are many other types of hoax pleas that are disseminated around the internet, and we don’t just see those related to lost children. In the past, our team has investigated reports of newborns supposedly being taken from hospitals, elderly people with dementia going missing, and poisonous rattlesnakes being discovered by the side of the road. These purportedly time-sensitive pleas have been altered afterwards, after they have accumulated a number of likes, comments, and responses, in order to advertise freebies, cashback, or real estate listings.
As a result of this behavior, community groups run the risk of being inundated with misleading information. As a consequence of this, persons who are honestly attempting to find missing people or track relatives run the risk of having their efforts rejected as fake or, even worse for those who are frantically looking for loved ones, disregarded. We have communicated these concerns to Meta in a letter, and we have requested that the firm take more decisive action in response to this issue. Before you choose to share anything with others, it is important to validate its veracity. You may read our tutorial on how to verify viral photos by clicking on the link provided in the previous sentence.