The sheriff's office in Allen County, Kansas, on Monday posted a "30 Day Notice" on Facebook that got a lot of local folks angry, nervous — and reacting very quickly.
"Due to the extensive and repeated misuse of Facebook and other social media applications within this jurisdiction, we will be blocking all Allen County access to Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr, and YouTube between February 28 and March 1," the post read.
Then the floodgates opened — to the tune of over 8,000 shares and 2,000 comments as of Wednesday morning.
"Just out of curiosity, how does your department plan to accomplish this?" one commenter asked. "Does it only affect area ISPs, or are mobile carriers also affected?"
“Seriously, I will lead a class action suit if this happens," one commenter added, "this is infringing on my right to life and happiness and free speech!”
The sheriff's office offered the following response:
We welcome all challengers to our authority in this matter. We do support free speech and this is just part of it. We understand that other law enforcement agencies across the country are following our lead in this matter. You will soon see that we have the power to do EXACTLY what we have stated in our Notice. We might suggest that the framers of the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence wouldn't understand this whole social media thing and would be asking you and others why people just don't talk to your friends and family directly. We aren't doing anything to land-line phones, cellphones, email or computers The Allen County Courthouse is open today from 8 to 5 if you would like to start your lawsuit today. Federal Courthouses across the nation are also open. We suggest printing off a copy of the Notice and showing it to the people at the Courthouse so they can place it with the file.
The sheriff's office issued replies to many other curious commenters as well — but some saw past the ruse.
The first clue?
There's no actual time "between" Feb. 28 and March 1, as the sheriff's office pointed out just a few hours later in a follow-up post admitting it "created a monster."
The sheriff's office shared in the follow-up post that it had received a whole bunch of calls — and some even came in to dispatchers and the District Court Clerk staff. Sheriff Bryan Murphy also got calls from the media "way outside our local area."
What was the point of the initial post?
Here's the office's explanation for the initial post and the demonstration of the "power of social media":
We want to remind everyone, read everything you see on the internet closely. Check the facts. Not everything is true no matter how good it may look. For those who fell really (and we mean REALLY) hard for this, we would ask that you reflect on the role social media plays in your life. We understand that many feel that they can’t live without their Facebook, Snap Chat, texting, instant messaging or whatever other methods they may use. We encourage people to actually get out and talk to each other face to face or even with a phone call.
The office added that it "has no way to limit or otherwise restrict anyone's usage of social media, internet, telephone or anything like that. We have enough trouble dealing with our children and their phones."
(H/T: Blue Lives Matter)