Wednesday, August 5, 2015

My Brother Sent Me This And You Need To Read It.


My brother the doctor sent me this email (link, blogpost, Tweet)  about…

The University of Kentucky is going to suspend holocaust studies
                                               
or

President Barack Obama has authorized over $20 million to facilitate emigration from Gaza
                                                or

FEMA is building detention camps for U.S. political dissidents

…and he has checked and  it is true.  Must read!

Have you received one of them or something like it? several times? Do you know something else? They’re all Internet rumors; they’re not true and, in some cases, they are years old.

Internet rumors are not just spread by anti-government extremists, conspiracy theorists or disgruntled members of society (although that is where they often start), more and more they are being spread by ordinary people.

The most tenacious rumors have a grain of truth, which is what makes them so attractive and believable.

Rumors matter.  In the 1967 riots in Detroit, Watts, Cleveland, Newark, and Harlem, incidental events became exaggerated to the point of being incendiary in already pressurized communities.

Although the mechanism of rumors has not changed, today we are seeing rumors being instigated to further hatred of ethnic, religious and social groups in both subtle and blatant ways.

The University of Kentucky is going to suspend holocaust studies – False.
This rumor is nearly identical to an earlier e-mail rumor about schools in the U.K. which originally circulated in 2007.  It appears someone substituted the words "University of Kentucky" for "U.K." and re-circulated the message. Holocaust education is mandatory in Britain.

President Barack Obama has authorized over $20 million to facilitate emigration from Gaza – False
On January 27, 2009, President Obama sent a memorandum to the Secretary of State, authorizing the redirecting of money in the State Department's Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance (ERMA) Fund – a fund established to deal with unexpected humanitarian issues - towards Gaza relief.  This Memorandum does not deal with the status of Palestinian refugees nor "open the floodgates to Hamas" to enter the United States.


FEMA is building detention camps for U.S. political dissidents – False
FEMA does have facilities with significant stockpiles of equipment and material. It is very likely they have contingency plans to house large numbers of people displaced by disasters. I should hope so – that is their job. 
           

An increasingly common tactic of rumor mongers is to claim that the rumor is true because it is being ignored bias mediaoutlets. Omission of unsubstantiated facts does not define bias - it defines good journalism. 

What if you get an email, Tweet, Facebook post that you think may be an Internet rumor?

1 – Stop: never forward emails in the heat of the moment

2 – Confirm: make an effort to confirm the information in the email by visiting ADL.org, Snopes.com or Google. Try to determine the source of the information and if the information has been embellished.

3- Consider: Consider the potential damage the rumor could trigger for a business or society at large. Think about the possible motivation of the person who initiated the rumor.

4- Don’t Distribute: if you don’t know the sender, if you can’t confirm the information reliably, if you suspect it has been circulated with malicious intent.

5- Respond: Let senders know when they are spreading rumors and not communicating facts. The excuses that “some of it is true”, “I didn’t write it” or “it sounds like something they would do anyway” is an excuse, not a justification.

Internet rumors, as with most rumors, are created to get us to respond in a visceral, emotion way. When friends and families forward us these emails, post or Tweet,  it is usually out of a genuine desire that we see something they believe to be important.  

Stop-Confirm-Consider-Don’t Distribute-Respond.  


No comments:

Post a Comment