Social Media Working Group Releases “Countering False Information on Social Media in Disasters and Emergencies” White Paper

Hanscom, Donald H., Jr.

The Social Media Working Group for Emergency Services and Disaster Management (SMWGESDM) a subcommittee of the Homeland Security Science and Technology Advisory Committee (HSSTAC) has published their latest 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. This white paper examines motivations people may have for sharing false information, discusses underlying issues that cause false information and offers case studies from recent disasters to illustrate the problem. Multiple motives lead people to post false information on social media: some posters seek a particular result, such as closing schools for the day; some desire to get attention with a dramatic post; some are pushing a money-making scam or political agenda; and some innocently repeat bad or outdated information.


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