Less Rumors Detected in December

Akeed – Aya Khawaldeh

The number of rumors went down to 46 in December against 54 in November, Akeed said in its monthly statistical report. 

The media was still a key player in circulating rumors, as it was responsible for spreading 17 rumors in December (or 37% of the total). This is close to last month’s figures, when the media circulated 19 rumors, representing 35.1% of the total in November.

Political and Economic rumors accounted for nearly a quarter of rumors in December. Health rumors, monitored for the first time by Akeed, accounted for nearly 15% of the total. It is worth noting that the month in question saw a spike in health rumors due to increased speculation about the H1N1 flue.

Rumor Sources 

Akeed’s quantitative and qualitative analysis examined rumors circulated across news sites, social as well mainstream media. It found that the vast majority of rumors (43 representing 93.5% of the total) came from local sources. Only three rumors, representing 6.5%, came from outside Jordan.

Dissemination Medium

Akeed showed that the majority of rumors detected in December: 29 rumors representing 63% of the total got started on social media platforms. Except for one rumor which first appeared on pages run by Jordanian expatriates, all other rumors were initially posted on local social networking sites.

Media outlets spread 17 rumors (37%), 15 of which were first posted by local media. One rumor was posted by Hebrew media and another by regional media channels.

Rumor Topics

Of the 46 rumors detected and verified in December, 12 revolved around economic issues and another 12 rumors revolved around politics. Combined, they represented nearly a quarter of total rumors during the month. The number of social rumors stood at 10, constituting 21.8%, while health rumors made around 15% of the total. Only five rumors were related to security issues, accounting for 11% of the total.

From “Social Networks” to Media Outlets

Only two rumors spread from social networking sites to news sites in December. This compares with six rumors the month before, according to Akeed.

Key rumors that spread from social media platforms to mainstream media:

  • A report where the Minister of Labor Nidal Bataineh was misquoted as saying that the government plans to raise the minimum wage to JD280, which was later denied by the Ministry of Labor.
  • Old photos and videos showing a multi-vehicle crash inside Abdoun tunnel. Although the story was posted as breaking news, the Civil Defense Department explained that the accident took place some time ago.

Key Issues and Rumors

  • Rumors around Economic Issues:
  • A rumor swirling on social media which alleged that the Social Security Corporation (CSS) invited students enrolled in state-run universities to receive checks covering the tuition of 15 credit hours. To be eligible for the benefit, the parents of students must have been paying their social security insurance for a long period of time, added the post. The SSC rejected the news as groundless.
  • A rumor claiming that plots of land were sold in Dhana area to a foreign investor. The Ministry of Agriculture, which dismissed the claim, said the law states that forest land can neither be sold nor exchanged unless this was in the public interest. The Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature is considered the owner of Dhana, Jordan’s largest nature reserve. The Ministry further explained that land use in the area requires approval from the Prime Ministry.

Political Rumors:

  • A report alleging that Awni Mutee will be released on bail, which was vehemently rejected as baseless by official sources. The sources stressed that the State Security Court has no plans to release Mutee, the primary suspect in the “tobacco case”, on bail.

Social Rumors:

Health Rumors:

Security Rumors:

 

For the purpose of the analysis, Jordan Media Credibility Monitor “Akeed” developed a methodology for detecting rumors. In this report, a rumor is defined as “incorrect information pertaining to a Jordanian public affair or to Jordanian interests circulated among over 5,000 people via digital media.”

In dealing with content produced by social media users, Akeed believes the general rule is to stay away from sharing posts until the content is verified through a reliable source. Dependence on social media users as a source of news without taking into account the accuracy of information leads to the spread of false information and rumors, explains Akeed.

It is worth noting that Akeed has developed and published a set of fundamental principles that help verify content, whether visual, written, or audio, produced by users. Before taking a decision to share any content, a set of questions should be raised, advises Akeed.

Typically, rumors flourish during turbulent times; e.g. crises, wars, and natural disasters. This does not mean that rumors will not spawn when things are normal. It is widely known that rumors fly high in certain social, political, and cultural environments. Their reach also depends on the level of mystery engulfing them as well as the importance and impact of their subject, according to the online portal.

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