Many people must feel the 2015 holiday break could not have arrived soon enough what with terrorism, crazy weather and other events that get covered rightly or wrongly in social media. While these can be scary and confusing times, they can also be times to educate, learn and help one another to understand a new reality we are all living in now.
There are specific tactics and strategies for understanding how live events unfold in social media and these can be instructive to the general public about what you are seeing and when, during events like these past weeks that we have all experienced. Real life events almost always flow to the internet in a micro second. Knowing how to tell the difference between truth and fiction could be critical to saving your own life of that of your family in a real life emergency that is also happening on social media.
So below are general truths about live events that unfold in a digital realm and in real life.
- In any emergency in the digital age, there are three things that happen. The first is the incident itself. The second is the round of rumors, untruths and outright lies that get spread at the speed of email, phones, sms and of course social media. The third is the round of truth, where all the earlier rumors, untruths and outright lies now have to be dispelled.
- The fear factor is something we all face. Some deal with it better than others. This fear factor only gets enhanced by constant updates, notifications and of course, people checking social media non stop during emergencies/crisis/terrorist attacks.
- Truth and Veracity in information sharing, whether in person, on the phone, through email and on social media are paramount in times like this. Do not be the one spreading false or unverified rumors. Do not be the one sharing non-verified *news*. These actions can cause panic, can cause a response from authorities in the wrong place and more importantly can add to the sense of fear that already exists in events like these.
- As members of a community it is extra important for us to not be sharing false information, to be extra calm and careful with facts and to have vigilance with the news and information; and especially that our kids are getting access to. Help them. Make sure they are both understanding the facts, and not mis-truths; and that they are not responsible for sending or sharing false information.
- Even the media can rush to judgement in a situation like this and often times reporters will start referencing tweets and other social media. Many times the sourced social media is not a verified source, so even the news media will get it wrong in these situations. So it is up to you to take the extra couple of minutes to *verify* information, especially any information being provided to your kids or others’ kids.
- Just because you heard/saw/read something *DOES* not make it a fact, especially in a crisis situation. DO NOT JUST SHARE ANY RUMOR OR ANY STORY. CHECK. INVESTIGATE. THIS IS FOR THE SAFETY OF YOUR FAMILY AND THE COMMUNITY.
- Be aware that your kids may be getting wrong information/scary information from the internet, from social media, from the chats in games and from their friends. Work with your kids to understand the importance of getting to the facts, and not sharing what could be dangerous information. Same is true for the adults in your lives. Social media during emergencies can make normally calm people get very nervous and then they spread that nervousness by posting wrong or misinformed information in their zeal to make themselves feel better about the situation,.
- Be aware that not all technology will always work the way it should. Sometimes you may get called, sometimes you may not. Sometimes you may get an email, sometimes you may not. So build up a quick reference of social media accounts that you trust and are verified. Create a list of these, and keep it on your computer or device.
- Be prepared. We have all hopefully created safety plans for our businesses, community groups and families in case of emergencies. Do the same for digital emergencies. Know where to look. How to find what you need. How to dispel rumors that can be dangerous. Create a digital emergency family plan, and teach it to your kids. Practice it before something happens so it is not something to worry about, but rather something that becomes instinctive and instructive.
I created an emergency social media list on twitter with accounts that are both trusted and real. I suggest you do the same and keep that list handy.
Make a list of your local real life emergency providers websites, twitter accounts and other social media tools. Use them to verify information and dispel rumors.