The Australian bushfires are being reposted, shared and commented on Social Media globally with tens of millions of posts.

Social media is shining a spotlight on the bushfire crisis, significant figures are sending their gratitude for firefighters, donations and urging their fans globally to help. 

However, with so many users on the platforms, emotions at an all-time high and disagreements plenty, the potential for inaccurate and sensationalised information is likely to be shared to large audiences.

Out of date imagery, incorrect statistics and the hashtag #ArsonEmergency has attracted bot-like tweets and reposts featuring the wrong information and insight.

Yet through these incorrect messages, correct and vital information is apparent. 

But what can we do to make sure we are sharing the correct information on our personal and business pages?

After all, as platforms continue to grow (Australia has 18 million active social media users (SocialMediaNews.com.au)) Social Media will continue to be a go-to source of information for many.

WHAT CAN I DO?

There are a number of things we can do to make sure we are getting the right information shared. Not those that may have been created or shared due to “motivated reasoning.”

Fact Check the information yourself.

Ask yourself the following questions.

a.    Where does this come from?

b.    Who is the original source?

c.    Is this image or information credited by an official source?

Share from trusted sources

By sharing information from trusted sources we are reducing the chance of error or miscommunication.

Media outlets sharing news has already fact checked a lot of the information for you. So you know that by sharing their posts their information is up to date.

Groups and organisations that are officially affiliated with education, assistance and recovery will also have reliable and factual information to share.

Avoid sharing content with no attribution.

Most reliable sources will credit the photographer or place where the original post has come from. If this information is missing, then it might be best to not hit that repost button until after you have checked its validity.

Report misleading information with the platform.

If you find information that is incorrect or misleading, you can report or flag it with the social media platform, helping them to ensure the right information is seen in News Feeds.

Use Google Images to help verify photos

With both the Australian bushfires and even the Amazon fires, incorrect imagery has gone viral.  Social Media users are seeing photos taken during other similar emergencies being reused to share the national disaster stories today.

If you aren’t sure of where a photo originated from, or the photographer to credit, then use Google Image search to help you find the true source.

You can find the link here.

Read the post fully and understand what it suggesting.

In times of heightened emotion we might not fully read or comprehend what a caption might be saying, leading to us hitting that repost button prematurely.

We have recently seen this with the NASA image of Australia from Anthony Hearsay, which was depicting hotspots around Australia, not the real number of fires burning at the time.

By taking these simple steps, not only are we truly helping the cause in the way we always wanted to, we are making sure the correct information is shared by ourselves and our businesses to others as well.

If you or your business need help with your Social Media Crisis Communication strategy, contact Demelza for a 1:1 consultation and discussion.