How to fight misinformation and fake news during natural disasters | Technology News


In the wake of natural disasters, such as the recent torrential rains that battered Chennai, the public’s attention is not just focused on immediate dangers and safety measures but also on combating the spread of misinformation.

Traditionally, government agencies have been ‘go-to’ sources of information in events of disasters. However, the rise of social media has seen community groups and volunteers taking the place of official channels. While these informal sources often provide local information faster, some of them may be less reliable.

A report published in The Conversation says that many people are switching off from official warnings because they find them hard to understand, or may feel there are too many of them. It may be that they have seen too many situations where the warnings do not affect them. This gives a scope for misinformation to proliferate.

In the context of recent floods in Chennai, social media platforms and messaging apps became both conduits and accelerators of unverified information, leading to a cacophony of rumors that compounded the challenges faced by authorities and citizens alike. Here are a few of these posts that were widely shared on social media platforms.

A video shared widely on social media showed a crocodile walking leisurely on a flooded street.


The video however, was found to be from Madhya Pradesh from August 17, 2022. The crocodile was rescued later after it strayed into the colony.

Another video showed fish swimming in a flooded supermarket in Chennai.

However, upon investigation, it was found that the video was of a supermarket store floor in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Many other old flood-related videos were falsely linked to recent Cyclone Michaung in Chennai.

Here are some tips for all trying to navigate information during emergencies:

1. Verify Sources: Cross-check information from multiple sources before accepting or sharing it.

2. Trust official channels: Prioritise information coming from official government channels, emergency services and reputable news outlets. These sources are more likely to provide accurate and verified updates.

3. Understand your emotional response: Natural disasters evoke strong emotions. Be aware of your emotional response and avoid sharing information based on fear or panic.

4. Use fact checking websites: Utilise fact checking websites to verify accuracy of information.

5. Promote responsible sharing: Encourage friends and family to verify information before sharing it.

By collectively adopting responsible sharing habits, the spread of misinformation can be minimised, especially during the events of natural disasters.

© IE Online Media Services Pvt Ltd

First published on: 09-12-2023 at 12:37 IST



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2 thoughts on “How to fight misinformation and fake news during natural disasters | Technology News

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