Stilesboro Road hoax causes panic and hysteria via social media

Arsheen Kour and Nabila Pranto

Hoaxes tend to trend in Cobb County. Last semester, Cobb faced a fake gun threat that stalled classes and caused unnecessary fear, and this semester, we start off with the Stilesboro Road hoax.

Last week, social media was ablaze, raving on about a strange man feigning an injury so bypassers would pull over and offer aid. As the hoax went, the man then proceeded to attack said individuals, according to faux Twitter reports and the rumor mill.

Believe nothing, as this false story did not appear on any news website and remained solely on Twitter and other social media sites. The story circulated when a picture of a man on crutches surfaced and people warned others to “be aware of the man on crutches.” Instantly, fear surfaced through the web and within a matter of hours, a hoax erupted.

“It’s crazy how fast things got out of hand just because of a couple retweets,” junior Ashley Diaz said.

Although there were variations of the story, the most popular described a man driving a gold SUV off the side of Stilesboro road with crutches pretending to be hurt. Supposedly whenever someone stopped to help in, he kidnapped them.

“Things like this just shouldn’t happen. It’s important for a community to be safe and its hard for the cops to do their job when people are going crazy under the impression that a man is out to hurt them. It’s a distraction and just wastes peoples’ time,” senior Sally Murtadhi said.

First, if this was true, people would need to use common sense. There is no way a man with crutches in that much pain would actually be driving a gold SUV. And if he needs help, call 911. If you do not see ambulances already, that should raise a red flag.

The entire story seemed fabricated and rather ridiculous. People believed such an obvious lie due to fear itself. As rumors that threaten people’s safety get around on social media (such as the rumor of a fake gunner threat last semester), fear increases and people are willing to believe anything.

“The Stilesboro road hoax was the most atrocious thing I have ever heard. The fact that people would actually believe such a stupid lie is sick,” senior Colby Robinson said.

Hoaxes remain purely hearsay. As people continue entertaining the topic, believability only increases and creates panic. It seems that when a stupid tweet becomes popular, people lose all common sense and act in fear.