The escape Tuesday morning of two inmates at the Hopkins County jail put Sulphur Springs in the news spotlight — not just in this area, but state-wide, country-wide and even world-wide. Welcome to the world of the Internet and social media.
Minutes after the inmates were discovered missing from the jail property, the news began a slow trickle out to the public, especially after local schools were put on lockdown. Within the next 30 minutes, that trickle became a flood, as Facebook postings began flying across the World Wide Web detailing the escape and the just-beginning manhunt.
From that point forward, it was a mad rush of postings and tweets, as various news outlets provided information via web pages and Twitter feeds and Facebook users forwarded updated postings. How viral did the story go? In the 24 hours since the news first became public, the mugshots of the two escapees that were posted on the News-Telegram Facebook page had been viewed over 430,000 times. And it wasn’t just through Facebook that the escape and manhunt played out. Throughout the morning and afternoon, News-Telegram staffers used its Twitter feed (@myssnews) to keep followers up-to-date on the search and, later in the day, on the lockdown procedures being followed by Sulphur Springs and county schools. The story was viewed on the MySSNews.com website by over 3,000 visitors and the four major Dallas television stations, along with KLTV in Tyler, all featured stories on the manhunt on their respective Internet sites. Even Yahoo.com featured the escape on the front page of its news site.
It is just another example of the speed and scope of a world built around the Internet and social media. There have been escapes from the local jail in years past. In those escapes, local media was informed of the incident while on their daily beat and the news would be featured on radio broadcasts and in that evening’s newspaper. Word of the escape traveled slowly, allowing those on the run a cleaner chance at a get-away. Between Facebook, Twitter and media websites, its doubtful many in Sulphur Springs weren’t informed of Tuesday’s escape and on alert by mid-morning.
While the news of the escape played out in cyberspace, so too, did the public reactions. And that is one of the downsides of an Internet-connected world. While the news may be immediate, so are the responses. In some ways, the responses to the story were more interesting than the story itself. The following is just a sample of how the world reacted to the escape (the poster’s online name is listed first, followed by the reaction).
- Ratt: “Yee ha!!! It's huntin' season in Texas!!!”
- Eagle One: “So what happened to the saying ‘Don't mess with Texas’”
- ValeriaAnn Pereida: “Oh it's an Texas, they'll be shot in no time!”
- Craig: “They won't make it far in Texas.. everyone has guns!!! good luck to the escapee's.. haha”
- Bonita Overbey: “YOU TWO MEN MAY RUN BUT YOU CAN'T HIDE, OUR TEXAS POLICE OFFICERS WILL CATCH YOU! YOU IDOTS FORGOT THIS IS TEXAS!”
- Tori: “What am I? Stupid? NO, I'M TEXAS.”
- CPTUSA: “What kind of mickey mouse jail is that place?”
- Bobo: “Squeezed thru the fence? Who the hell designed this place?”
- Bctallis: “So there's nothing between the inmates and freedom but a gate with a gap large enough for a grown man to squeeze through? Ever hear of razor wire? double fence? GUARDS?”
- Sharasecret: “Ok , two dangerous criminals segregated from the rest and no one is watching them squeeze through a fence? #$%$.”
- Snuffaluffapuss: "squeezed through the gate and took off. They either need a better gate or fatter prisoners.”
- Katy: “If they are so dangerous, why would the "prison" have a fence that ANY prisoner could "squeeze through"?!! AND...were they NOT being watched while they were on the yard - I mean, they got away and they later "found their prison uniforms 100 yards behind the prison".....just how long did it take before the prison even realize they had escaped? I'd think such dangerous prisoners would be housed in a "maximum security prison"....this place sure doesn't sound like it!”
- C: “They can't keep criminals in prison, yet they want to disarm us......lock your doors and call 911, what a great option for two men who care nothing about anyone.”
- Willyw: “A jail that can't hold dangerous felons? Did they succumb to Obama's over spending?”
- Tony: “The prison system in this country is a joke..Lets put all the gang members together and let them plot.Lets put murderers behind a chain link fence like school children.What a #$%$ joke.”
- Sladdon: “Lmfao, I actually live here, it's a really small, ignorant town, to everyone saying the "prison is a joke", etc., they escaped from a county jail, not a prison, which still, doesn't necessarily justify anything, but, I'd imagine it'd be slightly harder to escape a prison.”
- Chevy: “run forest run. we pay too much for jails. They should let all prisoners go free and save the money. our economy is dying. save the bucks”
- James1 Last: “Way to go guys! Hope you make it out & don't get caught because the justice is messed up.”
- Steve: “If I see two rough guys that look like that in their undies. rest assure I am not picking them up…..”
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