When using and communicating information about a crisis, be sure that the information you present is as accurate as possible. You should therefore check all information you receive for accuracy, otherwise, there is a high risk of spreading rumours and falsehoods! Also counter and dispel any rumours and misinformation that might be circulating, which in turn might help in building trust between your organization and your audience. It is important to establish a trustful relationship between your organization and your target audience because the latter can work as a self-correcting mechanism when it comes to rumours on social media during crisis situations.
- Use trustworthy sources.
- Check how accurate the people or organizations you follow are.
- Try to verify information as soon as possible:
- Check the provenance, time and date of the information.
- Crosscheck with other organizations in crisis management and information that citizens share.
- Correct misinformation:
- Actively monitor for and counter any rumours or false information via social media and an associated webpage.
- Pay attention to information that might misrepresent individuals and/ or communities:
- Eradicate essentialist categories related to race, ethnicity, gender, and nationality.
- Minimalize use of language of conflict.
During the response to Hurricane Sandy, Twitter users began posting tweets that claimed to be critical first-hand accounts of the situation on the ground, which were often retweeted hundreds of times. The highly discussed inaccurate report that the NY Stock Exchange flood had flooded with three feet of water and the Con Edison power company was cutting off power was even covered by mainstream media as a factual report.
In such cases, other Twitter users can be asked to verify or falsify these messages and requested to post pictures of the scene of the event. For the examples given other users already spontaneously debunked it, while some asked for sources.
Rumour control by FEMA during Hurricane Sandy (2012).
InSTEDD and the Red Cross utilised Ushahidi during the Haiti Earthquake to crowdsource information from people on the ground in order for the gathered information to support coordination efforts between the various humanitarian relief providers. Ushahidi is regarded as a credible source of information given that it provides accurate information by conducting checks and verifying reports received from a range of external sources.