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Vancouver police debunk social media rumor that four girls were murdered

Police say there's a false claim circulating online that four teenage girls were murdered in Vancouver over the weekend.

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Vancouver police are warning of a social media hoax circulating online that claims four teenage girls were murdered over the weekend.  

"The post claims that several teenage girls were murdered in Vancouver WA. This is a hoax," the Vancouver Police Department said in a Tuesday Facebook post. "We we are attempting to stop the spread of this erroneous information."

Police spokeswoman Kim Kapp said she does not know where the information came from or why someone would make something like that up. She said police want ensure that people who've seen the rumor know the claim is false.  

"Just be cautious about sharing posts where you aren't sure if it's a rumor or really true," Kapp said. "I think that's a good practice to always have when you're online."

Credit: Facebook

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Daniel Faltesek, a professor of social media at Oregon State University, said a lot of people can be vulnerable to online misinformation. 

"Some of the things that really help when you're fighting misinformation is to check-in with reputable news sources regularly," Faltesek said. "We know people who don't use regular media, who disconnect and go into secondary sources, they lose their ability to tell the difference between fake and real news."

Faltesek said fact checking is key.

"If reliable sources aren't saying it, it probably didn't happen," Faltesek said. "Look for red flags. Red flags are especially absurd claims or someone trying to get you to a new source or website."

Faltesek says in the age of misinformation, it's important to report or flag social media posts you know to be untrue. He said a lot of misinformation on social media can lead to scams, so people should be very cautious. 

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