RYAN URBAN WRITES – Shock and utter disgust flooded social media platforms this week, when an anonymous WeChat user posted pictures of graphic child neglect at a Singaporean daycare center.
The photos ranged from bare-bottomed children covered in fecal matter to children sleeping on bare floor tiles without mats or padding and being fed rotten fruits.
One WeChat user claimed that a child had even “dug” out the feces from his butt and eaten it.
According to local residents, the graphic photos are believed to be from a specific learning center in the Jalan Mutiara section of Singapore.
When The Straits Times called the center on Thursday, a female worker said some of the photos were taken last year and that most of the captions regarding the pictures were just plain not true. The photos, in her eyes, must have been a part of an elaborate scheme for internet users to generate more fake news in the local area, considering the large amount of fake news circulating Singaporean media last December.
Regardless of whether or not the photos posted on WeChat were actually fake, the overwhelming pressure from social media users to shut down the day care center prompted law enforcement to take a serious note of the case. The local police issued a formal statement on February 16th, confirming that a police report has been lodged and that the police will begin investigation into the matter shortly.
Even the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA), the Singaporean government’s committee under the Ministry of Education in charge of early adolescents has issued several statements to the public regarding the photos on WeChat.
The ECDA said “The safety and wellbeing of children in child care centres are of the utmost importance and should not be taken lightly…we are aware of the post on social media, and we are currently investigating it.”
Behind its easy to use interface and instant access to global information, social media can be a powerful force of influence for inaccurate occurrences. Social media has given virtually anyone the ability to get up on a soap box and have their voice heard on a global scale.
But it has also led us down the slippery slope of regarding outlandish conspiracy theories, such as investigating bigfoot sightings and regarding myths of crocodiles in the sewers of New York, as “news.” Sometimes the “truth” is not completely and solely necessary to create social change. Social media is such a powerful tool for information and persuasion that any idea, no matter how crazy it may seem, can have great influence if enough people read it.