In August 2014, rumors of a mass crime spree inspired by the film The Purge and its sequels sparked a social media panic. A teenager in Louisville, Kentucky reportedly started the virally-spread fears inadvertently by creating an flyer referencing a ““Louisville Purge,” not intending to create a deliberate hoax.
Beginning on 15 August in Louisville, “Purge” rumors became a hot topic on social media, and several users of Twitter and Facebook used a service called Broadcastify to listen in on local police scanners. The date of the “real-life Purge” came and went with no notable incidents reported by local police, despite some confusing prank calls overheard by scanner eavesdroppers.
This week, the rumors have continued to spread to other towns and cities, prompting “Purge” concerns across the U.S. Several cities appear to be included in the circulating warnings, a sampling of which have come in from readers:
I saw the video from Louisville, Kentucky about [a] “real life purge” … well now its circulating all around facebook with a flyer saying Wisconsin is having the purge August 22nd. Is this true? Everyone is quite alarmed here.
There’s been rumors circulating about a real life “purge” happening In Johnson City, TN on August 20th 11pm – 11am. I’m assuming this is a hoax to incite fear, is this real?
Is this true that NJ is [supposed] to have a purge like the movie on August 22nd?
There is rumor going around Oklahoma, that there will be a purge from 7pm on 30 August 2014 to 7am on 31 August 2014. Will you all try to
confirm or deny this rumor? Everyone is wondering …
As was the case in Louisville, police in Oklahoma are aware of the “Purge” rumors, and plan to be on alert for suspicious activity. Local news sources report that police are monitoring the situation, but do not expect anything out of the ordinary to occur:
— KOCO-5 Oklahoma City (@koconews) August 20, 2014
In Texas, local police have confirmed a recent update in “Purge” related queries:
— KENS 5 (@KENS5) August 20, 2014
Purge coming to Texas? Social media says so: Texas is the among the latest targets of social media threats of… http://t.co/JFfM6oovkM
— Houston CP (@Houston_CP) August 20, 2014
Police in Tennessee also report concerned citizens calling in with questions:
— WBIR Channel 10 (@wbir) August 19, 2014
It seems that for the time being, “Purge” warnings are here to stay on social sites like Facebook and Twitter, and a risk of “copycat” actions remains. However, no criminal incidents connected with these rumors appear to have been reported in any areas where the claims have circulated.