Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

Australian Police Turn to Twitter #Mythbusting During Floods

BY Julia Wetherell | Thursday, February 7 2013

A January 28 tweet from @QPSMedia

During natural disasters, social media can be an invaluable source of information – and misinformation.  The days leading up to Hurricane Sandy brought a digital flood of faked and misattributed photos of the storm to social networks. In times of crisis, false reports are easily circulated throughout a panicked population.  Yet the rapid proliferation of these rumors can be countered just as quickly on social networks. During Australia's flood-prone summer, law enforcement officials have been using a simple Twitter solution to curb the spread of disaster rumors.

Patrick Meier at iRevolution writes that in Queensland – which was severely affected by flooding two years ago – the state police department Twitter feed is now countering misinformation about a recent rash of floods, simply by tagging rumors with #mythbuster:

Along with official notices to evacuate, these #Mythbuster tweets were the most widely retweeted @QPSMedia messages. They were especially successful. Here is a sample: “#mythbuster: Wivenhoe Dam is NOT about to collapse! #qldfloods”; “#mythbuster: There is currently NO fuel shortage in Brisbane. #qldfloods."

The Queensland floods of 2010-2011 have already proved to be a useful case study for the efficacy of Twitter in disaster response, as a number of social network analysis studies have confirmed. Such a simple debunking strategy from a centralized public service is a great example of Twitter fact checking in use, and could provide a model for future disaster response plans. 

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network for its generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

News Briefs

RSS Feed friday >

First POST: Revisions

Tim Wu says we shouldn't be so pessimistic about lobbying; Obama writes a thank you note to reddit; Ted Cruz wants to be the Uber of politics; Llamas!; and much, much more. GO

thursday >

First POST: Impossibles

The FCC vote; a proxy Democratic primary battle in Chicago; Gov Andrew Cuomo begins deleting all state employee emails more than 90 days old; men talking about women in tech; and much, much more. GO

wednesday >

First POST: Off the Books

Chicago's "black site"; The New York Times reports "little guys" like Tumblr and Reddit have won the fight for net neutrality but fails to mention Free Press or Demand Progress; Hillary Clinton fan products on Etsy to inspire campaign slogans?; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

First POST: Challenges

How Silicon Valley donors are thinking about Hillary Clinton 2016; Yahoo's security chief locks horns with the head of the NSA; Instagram location data catches a Congressman with his hand in the till; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: Bows

CitizenFour wins best doc; Ken Silverstein resigned from First Look Media and took to Facebook to vent; why we need more Congressional staffers; who profits from the net neutrality debate; banning PowerPoint presentations; and much, much more. GO

More