Volunteers and staff are the backbone of any animal shelter program; however, an animal shelter usually has a single person who believes that their work, behind the scenes, is responsible, in one way or another, for all of the shelter’s achievements. They can make this claim from the comforts of their home computer. Social media provides this person a stage from which to perform.
The person generally has a pretty large social media following, but tends to do more harm than good. I have found that if I want to find the source of our local misinformation (fake news), I have to look no further than our very own “Barbara.” She thinks that reporting false information about an animal or shelter issue, is acceptable if the information brings about an adoption or facilitates a change at the shelter that she supports.
People like this so frequently upset the organizations that they are associated with, they are often cast out of the organization to find another organization to undermine. Eventually the person has no one left to work with and is left only with social media followers who are filled to the brim with misinformation. The Barbaras that exist in each organization is evidence that social media follows are unable to think for themselves and blindly follow that one person that claims that they the single mover and shaker in their community.
Social media has such wonderful potential, it is too bad that destructive people find it an effective wrecking ball. Social media is an effective tool to get information out immediately. It frequently is a path of false information; as such, many government and nonprofit organizations find themselves writing policies to deal with social media use. Abusers of social media claim that their right to broadcast (mis)information is a Constitutional right