The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warned the public against the social media post claiming that a super typhoon named “Maria” will soon hit the Philippines. (Read: ‘Be Witnesses to the Truth, Expose Fake News’ – Pope Francis)
“Based from all available data, apart from Typhoon “IN-FA” and Tropical Storm “NEPARTAK” outside the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) there are no other tropical cyclones that are expected to enter the PAR and affect the Philippine landmass within the next 3-5 days,” PAGASA said in a statement released on July 25.
PAGASA advised the public to “undertake precautionary measures, continue monitoring for updates, and remain vigilant against unofficial information coming from unverified sources.”
However, because social media is a public sphere, people who disseminate– knowingly or unknowingly– fake news and disinformation are still rampant. These may cause unnecessary fear or panic to the public. Here are four ways on how to use social media responsibly during typhoons, earthquakes, and other natural calamities.
Responsible social media usage: Only share posts from verified sources
It is important to always check the sources of everything you see on the internet. When it comes to the weather forecast and any updates on typhoons, you can get verified information and official announcements on PAGASA’s website at bagong.pagasa.dost.gov.ph or from its social media pages; Dost_pagasa (Facebook), @dost_pagasa (Twitter), and DOST-PAGASA Weather Report (YouTube channel). Other than that, official and trustworthy news websites are also considered reliable sources of information. (Read: Fake news endangers lives more than COVID-19, and each of us can fix it)
Responsible social media usage: Disseminate relevant information only
PRESS STATEMENT— PAGASA-DOST (@dost_pagasa) July 25, 2021
25 July 2021
There are posts currently circulating online and being shared in various social networking services stating there is a tropical cyclone named “MARIA” will be hitting the country as a “Super Typhoon”…. pic.twitter.com/vEXKRz9zCp
Aside from news articles or official announcements from reliable sources, netizens can also share legitimate donation drives, emergency or rescue hotlines, posts calling for help, and other relevant information. Just make sure to fact-check first before you hit the share or post button. Posts like memes or hugot quotes are unnecessary and insensitive at these times.
Responsible social media usage: Don’t share memes connected to typhoon/disaster
Memes are not always funny, especially when it contributes to disinformation and discrimination. Other netizens might interpret them in a wrong way, which may lead to false information. It is not funny as well to make jokes or memes out of those people who are evacuating or experiencing flooding. (Read: Globe Telecom gives free data access to government websites, helps in the fight against fake news)
Responsible social media usage: Don’t flood the rescue hashtags with unnecessary posts
Some of the residents who have access to the internet usually ask for assistance or rescue through social media, including the hashtag of the name of the typhoon and #RescuePH. Sharing those posts would be a great help for them. However, flooding the hashtag with unnecessary posts (such as selfies!) might be one of the reasons why rescuers and volunteers might not be able to see their posts.