A rash of social media posts warning Rockford residents of suspicious individuals with the belief they intended to do harm to young people has filled the local internet landscape in the past week.

Like most people, they would see the post and share. It seems like the decent thing to do. However, the Rockford Police urge caution when sharing those posts.

In a statement shared by Eyewitness News, Lieutenant Kurt Whisenand said:

While the intention behind sharing is to let neighbors know what's going on in the area, it's important to use discretion when sharing to avoid 'unnecessary hysteria when false information is spread.'

The violence in our city plays a large part in the hysteria surrounding the stalker posts. We, as members of a community, usually feel it's within the best interest of those who live here to share what we believe is credible information.

When it's wrong though, a misleading or fake post can drive the hysteria up another notch, and further, create copycats all looking for their 15 minutes of social media fame.

Don't get the message from the Rockford Police twisted. They believe that these posts should be published especially when a potential threat exists. Eyewitness News says the Rockford Police ask social media users to "use their best judgment to determine if the information is coming from a credible, reliable source before sharing Facebook posts about alleged incidents."

Like everything else in 2018, the biggest issue will be trying to figure out the difference between real and fake.

Sweet Lenny is the brand manager of 97ZOK and Operations Manager for Townsquare Media Rockford. Catch him afternoons 3 to 7 on 97ZOK. Follow him on TwitterInstagram and like his page on Facebook.