Modern disaster prep: bottled water, sandbags, fake news control
As the most dangerous hurricane in years barrels down on a populated coast, U.S. federal disaster officials have lots to do — making life-and-death decisions about who needs to evacuate, finding space for them to go, and warning about dangers obvious and not-so-obvious.
There are lots of details, and one of them, for every hurricane, is for someone to keep track of fake news that needs to be officially contradicted.
- Beach sand should be used to fill sandbags if supply intended for the purpose runs short. (“Residents should NOT be heading toward the beach.” Guess not.)
- Service animals are not allowed in shelters. (That would be particularly mean-spirited if true, but as it turns out, “All service animals are allowed in shelters. Service animals are not pets.”)
- Hotels are required by law to accept evacuees’ pets. (This fiction appears reliably with every hurricane, complete with an elaborate pseudo-legal backstory, but no such law exists.)
Contrary to reports, people should not either put their valuables in a dishwasher or shoot at the hurricane; this will not bother the hurricane, but will bother people downrange, who have enough to worry about already.
More harmlessly, over 20,000 Facebook users have expressed some level of interest in yelling ‘Fake News!’ at the hurricane. You can join them tomorrow at 10 p.m. ET if you like. We’ll see how that works out.
Fortunately, there seem not to be faked hurricane forecast maps, as there were with Hurricane Irma in 2017.
(Faked storm warnings ought not to be a genre, but unfortunately are.)
- Should the conservative Weekly Standard (a magazine, but also a Facebook fact-checking partner) have been able to label a story in the liberal ThinkProgress ‘false,’ which downgrades it in feeds? The Nieman Lab concedes that the headline the Weekly Standard objected to was a clickbaity overreach, but argues that ” … the problem is that Facebook has set up a fact-checking system that, by handing off moderation power to third parties, throws the door open to conflicts like this … Facebook shouldn’t have outsourced this work in the first place, and it should stop outsourcing it now.”
- Law enforcement sources that spoke to Mother Jones say they’ve seen a sharp increase in threats against journalists linked to U.S. president Donald Trump’s attack on the press. “It’s evident that Trump, by way of Fox News, political surrogates, and the power of the presidential bully pulpit, has ingrained a toxic political narrative. There is also no denying its trajectory: The more Trump decries an alleged media conspiracy bent on destroying him, the more he sets the stage for a grim conclusion.”
- Buzzfeed has a disturbing account of how fabricated rumours on WhatsApp led to five people being beaten to death in a village in India.
- 93 per cent of tweets about vaccination, mostly against it, come from accounts that can’t be reliably categorized as humans or bots, a public health study shows.
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