Social Media and Misinformation

Social media has become one of the biggest positive improvements to sharing critical information during disasters. At the same time, it has also become one of the biggest sources of misinformation and confusion during disasters. This misinformation causes several problems for your neighbors as well as emergency personnel. Consider these tips when using social media:

Tip No. 1 – Consider the Source

When viewing a post on the various platforms take a moment to review the source. Posts that involve public safety and emergency situations should come from official sources from the National Weather Service, your community and/or local news sources. Below are some of the sources and how to follow them:

If you share or retweet information from the various sources mentioned above, try to refrain from adding your own personal commentary. Even though your commentary may not include false information, you might accidentally leave out critical pieces of information. Someone who sees your post may read only your commentary instead of fully reading the original post.

Tip No. 2 – Before you Like, Share or Retweet, Compare the Facts

Before sharing posts on social media, take a moment to search whether or not the post is true, false, or partially true. In many causes, especially during disasters, research can take a matter of minutes. It takes seconds to share a post, but the impacts of spreading false information can take communities hours to correct.

Tip No. 3 – Delete Posts, Shares or Retweets of False Information

In the end we are all human and we make mistakes, especially during disasters. The stress of staying informed, dealing with flood damages, etc. can easily distract us which could lead to spreading false information. If you do share a post that is later determined to include false information, remember to delete your post or share.

Tip No. 4 – Be Cautious of Headlines and Attention Getting Words and Phrases

Headlines are purposely written to gain your attention. They can provide enough information to peak your curiosity but not tell the entire story. They can also use attention getting words like “biggest” or “deadliest.” Before sharing any news articles, make sure you read the full story and always apply Tip No. 3.

If something seems questionable, always remember to go back to those official emergency sources.