The popularity of social media has made it very difficult to put a lid on spread of rumours said academics and security experts at the seminar organised by the National Crisis & Emergency Management Authority (NCEMA).
“Nowadays, people were likely to pass on hearsay although tough laws forbid them from doing so,” added experts.
But, it is necessary to control the spread of rumours and untruths to avoid the spread of malicious intent, said experts.
“The Nazis used to follow a policy – ‘lie, lie, lie until people believe you,” observed Dr Ali Al Nuaimi, head of the Abu Dhabi Educational Council, chancellor of UAE University and a member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council.
Hecautioned that wrong information may endanger the society as foreign governments or ant-social elements may use them to further their agenda.
Maj Gen Fahad Al Shalan, of Nayef University in Saudi Arabia, gave guidelines on a plan to help government officials to repond in the event of emergencies.
“Many leaders admit that during a crisis they are affected by what they see and hear. Many get into trouble from their statements during crises,” he opined, adding “There is no way to separate the media from the crisis.”
The lack of proper information often leads to spread of rumours he added.
“Give us the information and we shall report it transparently and accurately, and no one will have to build on rumours.”
Various governments across world impose strong penalty on those who resort to spreading false information or rumours online, Mohammed Al Hammadi said.
Hussein Abdullah, the current head of social media at Al Sayegh Media, is of the opinion that online rumours often starts from individual levels, but it could be is exaggerated and pose damages to people as it influences others.
“People like attention, just like gossip”, he delineated the psychology behind rumours. “Some people have hidden agendas, some people just want to prove their influence even further,” he added.