US relief agency sets up 'rumor control' to counter online misinformation

Relief efforts after Hurricane Sandy were affected by misinformation on social networks like Twitter

The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency has set up a "rumor control" section on its website to counter misinformation on social networks that has affected relief efforts after Hurricane Sandy.

"Fema.gov/sandy now has a RUMOR CONTROL section for misinformation," FEMA said in a Twitter message on Saturday.

The move by FEMA reflects the continuing spread of rumors on social networks in the wake of the hurricane.

"There is a lot of misinformation circulating on social networks. Check here for an on-going list of rumors and their true or false status," the agency said on its website, which on Saturday warned people for example about recent blog posts and social media traffic that claimed that FEMA is out of bottled water.

"This is FALSE. We are providing water to our state partners for distribution," FEMA said. It also informed people that calls and posts from citizens related to the failure of the Old Bridge Township water system in Old Bridge, New Jersey were false.

As Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast of the U.S., a number of users turned to social networks such as Twitter to alert other people, and also to report on developments. Local and state government officials also recommended a number of accounts and hashtags that users could follow to stay informed of emergency measures, Twitter said in a blog post ahead of the hurricane landing on the east coast.

But some users also spread rumors.

A user who used the Twitter handle @ComfortablySmug said in a message that he apologized to the people of New York for "irresponsible and inaccurate tweets." The user who was identified in some reports as Shashank Tripathi, a campaign manager for Christopher Wight's New York City congressional campaign, said he had resigned from the campaign.

Over the weekend, FEMA continued to use social media including Twitter to get messages across to people about availability of food and transport at various locations, including from organizations like the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army. Other organizations working on the relief have also been using social media extensively in the crisis. "If you see any Red Cross trucks in your neighborhood, please tweet out locations and pic so others will know," The Red Cross in Greater New York for example said in a message on Sunday on Facebook.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Government use of ITInternet-based applications and servicesFEMAgovernmentinternet

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?