Tackling rumours after Hurricane Irma

Predictably, sadly, the ‘rumour mill’ in the wake of Hurricane Irma is working at full speed. The problem of rumours is recognised by the US government, hence their helpful website. It’s a big challenge now for aid agencies and governments to ensure people receive correct information and information that will shape lives for the better, especially as communities work out how to recover from Hurricane Irma.

Given the devastation to so many lives and livelihoods caused by Hurricane Irma, the last thing that people need is wrong information. Quality information transforms how people are able to move on and rebuild their lives.  However, it is a big task to counter the swirling information flows on the web; information flows that can too often be misleading. It is a massive issue on the web and social media; too many people serving up incorrect information and too many people unable to sift through what they see and read and then double or triple source the authenticity of so-called facts. We are hearing this so often. It’s a recurring theme in political debate. The costs of spreading wrong information can be immense. We may never have thought it some years ago, but the need for everyone to be ‘media literate’ is so important. We all build our information universe online. People need to know how to do this. Too many do not. Too many feed on rumour and falsifications. They feed on creating their ‘Daily Me’, reading sources they tend to agree with rather than seeking diversity and fact-checking, double or triple-sourcing from authentic places, what’s put to them. Courses in media literacy have real practical value.

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