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DHS White Paper: Countering False Information on Social Media in Disasters and Emergencies

Rumors, misinformation and false information on social media proliferate before, during and after disasters and emergencies. While this information cannot be completely eliminated, first responder agencies can use various tactics and strategies to offset bad information.

As a result, the Department of Homeland Security’s Social Media Working Group for Emergency Services and Disaster Management has made available “Countering Misinformation, Rumors, and False Information on Social Media Before, During, and After Disasters and Emergencies.” This detailed white paper offer plans, proposals, and guidance on handling social media during and after disasters.

The report presents goals for efforts to counter misinformation, rumors, and false information including:

  • Improve the quality of communication through double-verification of information.
  • Remove ambiguity and uncertainty caused by misinformation, rumors, and false information.
  • Reduce alert fatigue and the risk of “cry wolf” scenarios.
  • Seek ground truth as opposed to assumptions.
  • Be swift in releasing accurate information or acknowledging the situation to help the agency work with a network of truth amplifiers and establish credibility early on.
  • Determine the relevance of social media information.

“Countering Misinformation, Rumors, and False Information on Social Media Before, During, and After Disasters and Emergencies” also provides case studies, as well as best practices in the areas of people, processes, and technology.

The white paper is available from the Department of Homeland Security here.

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