More recently and mostly due to pandemic concerns, there’s been various examples seen online where people are “trolled” for posting a selfie or photo that shows them not wearing a mask in public – or comments from those who feel the person posting isn’t social distancing enough. The pandemic-related comments are also political, says Social Media Law Attorney Brad Shear.
“I’ve had people say things to me because the masks, one of the masks I’ve worn. And it’s just this – a regular U.S. flag mask,” Shear told FOX 5. The Maryland-based attorney focuses on social media, security and the law, and tells FOX 5 people should be mindful of what they are posting as well as how they respond to criticism.
First, Shear says to make sure you know the COVID-19 regulations before you post! Also, weigh the impact of that post.
“Before you post, you always want to make sure that you think about what you’re posting. How is it going to impact your potential reputation today but also, down the road,” said Shear.
A recent One Poll survey notes that 50 percent of respondents say they hide the fact that they are getting together with people, even though small gatherings are allowed. Respondents are hiding the information, mainly to avoid being criticized by others, the study says.
The same survey says 54 percent of respondents plan to keep their gatherings a secret for the time being and refrain from posting on social media.
“I actually made a comment on a girl’s post the other day because she was like, ‘I can’t wait for next year to be open,’ and I made a comment like, ‘You were just in California and she like deleted it because she doesn’t want people to know that she was just out,” said a woman named Emily who was visiting the National Mall on Tuesday, “I don’t hide so it doesn’t bother me as much. If you’re going to do it, do it, be truthful about it I guess.”
Zach Brien tells FOX 5 he tries not to shame people online but will speak to someone about their actions in-person.
“Either they’re going to do it or not. You can’t shame. If you shame somebody it’s just going to make them do it more. So it’s really not worth your time,” Brien said of commenting online.
“It’s okay to post stuff,” said Luis Tejeda, who stopped his run to chat with FOX 5 quickly, “how you feel as long as you’re respectful and not really insulting everyone.”
“In general, just ignore a lot of the hate online. And when people attack you, just don’t think about it,” said Shear. "Just minimize it because there’s always going to be hater out there. There’s always going to be somebody out there who's looking to start a name for themselves or start trouble.”
FOX 5 checked around with a few area police departments and did not find any instances where a post of a single person resulted in police issuing a COVID-19 violation. However, the posts that involve large groups doing questionable things during the COVID-19 pandemic – those are definitely being taken seriously.
Viewers have been sharing videos circulating online of a packed pool party at the Broadwater Mansion in Upper Marlboro in Prince George’s County this past weekend.
Prince George’s County Police tell FOX 5 they have “a dedicated team of detectives who monitor social media for these types of events.” Police responded and tell FOX 5 they broke up the party twice over the weekend. FOX 5 was told there will likely be serious citations coming down against those responsible.
Here is another part of the statement from Prince George’s County Police:
"Based on the violations observed this weekend, it is anticipated that the Department of Permitting, Inspections and Enforcement and the Health Department will also issue applicable citations.
Our agency will continue consulting with the county’s Office of Law, Department of Permitting, Inspections and Enforcement as well as the county’s Board of License Commissioners - Liquor Board, to explore additional fines and potential legal actions against the event organizers."