US disaster agency tries to dispel social media rumors

Nov 04, 2012
US President Barack Obama (L) takes part in a meeting at FEMA headquarters (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) in October 2012 in Washington, DC. FEMA, the US disaster response agency, set up a "rumor control" section on its website to dispel misinformation on social networks in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy.

FEMA, the US disaster response agency, on Saturday set up a "rumor control" section on its website to dispel misinformation on social networks in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy.

Many Americans have taken to Twitter and Facebook to spread the word about finding supplies in devastated areas of the US East Coast as they struggle to cope with gasoline shortages and —but has also emerged.

"Fema.gov/sandy now has a RUMOR CONTROL section for misinformation," the (FEMA) announced on its official Twitter account.

"There is a lot of misinformation circulating on social networks," it added on the new section of its website.

The agency debunked two widely-retweeted rumors. One of these stated that FEMA is giving out $300 in food stamps to anyone who lost power in the deadly superstorm, asking them to call an agency help line.

"1- 800-621-3362 FEMA, $300 for people who lost power. Pass this along to anyone you know in need. This is for all," one New York-based netizen tweeted.

"This is FALSE," FEMA responded on its website, giving people a phone number to call to find out what kind of assistance is available.

FEMA also discounted a rumor that it is hiring cleanup crews in New York and New Jersey.

Social networks helped provide updates while Sandy crashed ashore on Monday, and have proven useful in mobilizing aid and donations following storm, which killed more than 100 people in the United States.

On Saturday, Charley Shimanski— of disaster services at the Red Cross—said social media had been hugely useful in their relief operations.

"This is really a new and tremendous resource for the work that we're doing on this very, very large disaster," he told reporters.

"We can hear the community reaching out to us before other more traditional sources would reach out to us."

But social networks have also proven unreliable at times.

One Twitter user who became an online villain after posting several false tweets about Sandy's destruction was forced to apologize and resign from his high-profile job earlier this week.

Explore further: Google to help boost Greece's tourism industry

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

'Hurricane Sandy's worst online troll' gets a beating

Oct 30, 2012

An influential netizen came under angry scrutiny Tuesday after dramatic information he announced on his widely-followed Twitter account at the peak of deadly superstorm Sandy was found to be false.

Americans take to social media to help post-Sandy

Oct 31, 2012

As Americans reeled from the aftermath of superstorm Sandy Wednesday, they took to tweeting, posting and crowdsourcing to mobilize much-needed aid and help those left without power or food.

Study finds link between political corruption and FEMA money

Dec 11, 2008

Where natural disasters strike, political corruption is soon to follow, say the authors of a study in the Journal of Law and Economics. But it's not the wind and rain that turns good folks bad; it's the money that floods ...

Hurricane Irene safety tips on Twitter

Aug 28, 2011

A Twitter account with the handle @irene is pouring out a stream of tips on how to stay safe as Hurricane Irene batters the United States east coast.

Social media helps out as Hurricane Sandy approaches

Oct 29, 2012

Locating the nearest emergency shelter or chatting live with forecasters—social networks were abuzz with the latest news, tips and reassurance Sunday as Americans hunkered down for Hurricane Sandy.

Recommended for you

Should you be worried about paid editors on Wikipedia?

40 minutes ago

Whether you trust it or ignore it, Wikipedia is one of the most popular websites in the world and accessed by millions of people every day. So would you trust it any more (or even less) if you knew people ...

How much do we really know about privacy on Facebook?

1 hour ago

The recent furore about the Facebook Messenger app has unearthed an interesting question: how far are we willing to allow our privacy to be pushed for our social connections? In the case of the Facebook ...

Philippines makes arrests in online extortion ring

1 hour ago

Philippine police have arrested eight suspected members of an online syndicate accused of blackmailing more than 1,000 Hong Kong and Singapore residents after luring them into exposing themselves in front of webcam, an official ...

Google to help boost Greece's tourism industry

14 hours ago

Internet giant Google will offer management courses to 3,000 tourism businesses on the island of Crete as part of an initiative to promote the sector in Greece, industry union Sete said on Thursday.

Music site SoundCloud to start paying artists

21 hours ago

SoundCloud said Thursday that it will start paying artists and record companies whose music is played on the popular streaming site, a move that will bring it in line with competitors such as YouTube and Spotify.

Facebook awards 'Internet Defense Prize'

Aug 21, 2014

Facebook awarded a $50,000 Internet Defense Prize to a pair of German researchers with a seemingly viable approach to detecting vulnerabilities in Web applications.

User comments : 0