Officials combed social media for information as violence flared

Baltimore officials cataloged social media posts from people commenting on rioting and unrest.

City officials compiled a spreadsheet listing suspicious Twitter and other social media postings from the day rioting broke out (April 27), newly released documents show.

Information circulating on social media claiming high school students would take place in a "purge" — or period of lawlessness — helped fuel tensions ahead of that Monday's violence, and the documents show that someone in city government continued to keep a close eye on people's Internet postings.

The document lists 71 posts described as either "threats" or "chatter." It is not clear why posts were included on the list, who added them to the list or how the information was used.

Some posts include information officials believed was inciting violence against police officers — next to one Twitter message, the document notes the use of a gun emoji pointing at a policeman emoji. An Instagram picture of a news article about police saying gangs had teamed up to attack officers posted with an approving comment was also flagged.

But the reason why others were tracked is less obvious. One post includes a link to quick medical procedures for protesters, for example, but in a column on the spreadsheet for "violation" the description "rebellion" is given.

Some people appear to have singled out one officer in particular. A number of postings on the list link to images showing a purported Facebook message in which the female officer calls protesters "animals." Another post includes what claims to be the officer's contact information.

Rumors continued to circulate on social media in the days following the violence. One email officials released includes an attached Instagram picture claiming a second purge would take place on April 28.

iduncan@baltsun.com

twitter.com/iduncan

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
52°