Fact or Fiction

Fact checking has been featured prominently in the media recently thanks to the 2012 elections. What is becoming increasingly apparent is that all major organizations need a method of fact checking and rumor control. A few good examples of this are FEMA, the CDC and Los Angeles Department of Water & Power.

Rumor control centers are being incorporated into major websites to help publicize accurate information in times of crisis or simply to provide transparency on important issues.

Technologies like email, text messaging and social media make it easy for alarming rumors to spread quickly and can often drown out the official sources of correct information.

Official communicators for an organization involved in a crisis are no longer the primary providers of information about the event. Now it is most often the public that is the first to witness, report and share an incident.

FEMA’s Hurricane Sandy website contains a Rumor Control section where visitors can find a running list of Sandy-related rumors and assigns a true or false status accordingly.

Fact CheckingThe LADWP Fact Check section is prominently featured on the front page of its website. This enables the agency to immediately combat false, misleading or incorrect information. It is well designed and clearly shows that the LADWP is actively monitoring the media as part of a comprehensive public relations strategy.

In the month following the recent meningitis outbreak Twitter users searched for the CDC over 13,000 times. The CDC created a dedicated web page to address concerns and provide multiple sources of information including an “At-A-Glance” list of statistics that is continuously updated.

Setting up a rumor control operation requires staff and resources to monitor social media and other outlets and the ability to provide response information in a timely manner. In the long run it could potentially save not only an organization’s reputation but perhaps lives as well.

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