Decline in rumors in February, with 19 percent concerning the political sector

Akeed – Majdi Qsous

 

Rumors in the month of February have seen a marked decrease compared to the numbers of last month, with 31 rumors recorded this February as opposed to 37 rumors in January.

It is remarkable that the content areas of the February rumors are very close in number to each other. For example, rumors concerning economic issues take the lead with 9 rumors total (29%), followed by rumors about the security sector amounting to 7 rumors total (23%), followed by rumors on political issues, and lastly by rumors about public affairs.

Rumor sources according to their origin 

Through examination using a quantitative and qualitative monitoring methodology, the vast majority of rumor topics were spread on news websites, social networks, and media platforms. It’s apparent that the vast majority originate from internal sources. (On) both communication platforms and news sites, the share of internal sources amounts to 30 rumors total (97%) in the month of February. A single rumor (3%) can be traced to foreign parties.

 

Rumor sources by method of publication

The analysis shows that 23 rumors total (74%) originated from social media platforms. All of which (100% of this sample) were published on local communication platforms.

The number of rumors that were circulated by the media amounted to 8 total (26%). One rumor was issued by a foreign media outlet, which dealt with the renewal of the agreement to sell oil from Iraq to Jordan.

 

Rumor contents

The number of rumors that dealt with the economic sector reached the highest percentage, followed by rumors about the security sector. Rumors on the political sector followed with a total of 6 rumors (19%), and 5 rumors total (16%) addressed public affairs. Rumors addressing the social sector and the health sector reached two rumors total, each and 6.5 percent.

 

From social media to media outlets

In February, two rumors moved from social media platforms to news sites reaching 6.5 percent, which is far less than the number of rumors that moved to the media in January.

Local news sites published information about Orange Jordan Company increasing the prices of top-up cards quoting social media sites as a source. The company defies the information, stressing that by no means it did increase the price of top-up cards in any of its outlets throughout the Kingdom nor in its online store. The price remains unchanged by the distributors, and did not alter at other points of sale either. The company highlights the fact that the cards are selling at the same value without any intended increase or alterations.

Similarly, a source at the Ministry of Water and Irrigation refuted information which was circulated by some media outlets regarding a new agreement with Syria on the Al-Wehda Dam. The source confirmed that everything is running according to previous agreements which have been in place for years, and that there are no plans for the implementation of new measures nor discussions of those.

 

Most prominent rumors by topic

The most prominent rumors monitored by "Akeed" and spread widely across social media platforms and media sites by topic:

 

Public affair rumors

Since the beginning of May, "Akeed" reclassified the topics of public affair rumors to include issues such as education, higher education, the trade union sector and decisions concerning public and national holidays.

Among the rumors that circulated on social media sites, particularly educational pages, was a story which stated "no summer holidays this year", referring to the Minister of Education Dr. Tayseer Al Noaimi. To "Akeed", it appeared to be the case that Al Noaimi's reference to summer vacation was a response to a question from a Member of Parliament during a supervisory session saying that the Ministry will grant students reinforcement classes and will use the summer vacation to address the gaps resulting from the Corona pandemic. The information on social media was removed from the context that it was uttered in.

Similarly the Ministry of Education refuted information that circulated on social media about electronic hacking attempts onto the site displaying the Tawjihi results, stressing that "high-tech procedures followed by the Queen Rania Center for Education and Information Technology, which is affiliated with the Ministry, in order to prevent hacking attempts to the site."

Furthermore, the Ministry had to address two rumors relating to school attendance for the second semester. The first rumor concerned the alleged intention of the ministry to close schools after paying the school fees, and the second rumor addressed the alleged suspension of schools on February 18th. The Ministry stated that any new decisions concerning school hours would be announced by the government directly.

 

Health rumors

Rumors about the novel Coronavirus and the ensuing consequences and actions in February were diverse. "Akeed'' observed two common health sector issues which is a marked decrease in the number of health rumors compared to last month.

 

One rumor was spread by the media and concerned the alleged numerous deaths as a result of the Corona vaccine in Jordan. The Ministry of Health refuted this data, stressing that the Corona vaccines which are used in the national vaccination campaign are safe and cannot cause death by transmitting a Corona infection.

Similarly, Minister of Health, Dr. Nathir Obeidat, denied reports by social media activists who claimed that the corona vaccine allocated to state officials is different to the vaccine used for common citizens.

 

Security rumors

Security and government agencies refuted several rumors during the month of February, most notably rumors about imposing a total or partial curfew. The number of rumors on that topic amounted to 5 (out of 7) and a total of 71 percent before the issuing of the defense order which restored the curfew on Fridays starting February 26th, 2020.

Before the passing of the official defense order, the Minister of State for Media Affairs and Government Spokesperson, Ali Al Ayed, said to "Akeed" when confronting the rumor of a comprehensive curfew for the length of three weeks that this decision has not been studied and was not on the government table.

Minister of Health, Dr. Nathir Obeidat, also confirmed that the government was not considering measures that extended over the length of weeks nor did it consider "closing Amman" after high Corona casualty rates were recorded.

 

Economic rumors

Most notably during the month of February was the talk on the departure of factories from the Kingdom to another Arab country, which was denounced by an industrial source. The same source confirmed that a few factories headed to open production lines in the Arab Republic of Egypt, but that they did not leave their facilities in Jordan nor did they dismiss their workforce as promoted by ill-informed press statements.

Similarly, Salah al-Lozi, General Director of the Land Transport Regulatory Commission, refuted that a decision had been issued on fixing public transport fares this year. He pointed out that the Authority was still waiting to receive the inflation rate estimations from the Department of General Statistics. He stressed that the Authority was considering several data sets to determine transport fares, including the inflation rates and the operational costs.

Moreover, the government denied to have increased the salary of the Chairman of the Integrity and Anti-Corruption Commission and of members of the Board of the Commission, highlighting that there has been no changes in their pay and that the Council of Ministers does not have the power to fix or increase salaries.

 

Political rumors

One of the political rumors that spread in February concerned the alleged dissolving of the municipal councils. The Minister of Political and Parliamentary Affairs, the engineer Musa Al-Ma’aytah, stated that currently there is no decision on the side of the government to dissolve the municipal councils, pointing out that this decision is in authority of the Cabinet under the lead of the Minister of Local Administration.

Similarly, the Ministry of Local Administration opposed information that was circulated on instructing mayors to return staff to work 100 percent of official working hours. The Ministry stated that this "relates to the exclusion of oversight and inspection officials, from the directives in the Prime Minister's paper concerning determining the minimum percentage of employees working in municipalities.”[1]  The Ministry noted that the decision is a result of the aim to intensify inspections of industrial activities and facilities based on the letter of the Prime Minister and the Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply.

Social rumors

Two social rumors were widespread during the month of February. The first concerned the alleged dissolving of Umniah’s sponsorship of Al-Wehdat Sports Club. The chairman of the administrative body of Al-Wehdat Sports Club, Wajih Azaizeh, refuted the claims and pointed out that the company played a great role in surpassing Al-Wehdat’s financial obstacles in the season of 2020, and pushed the fortunes of the team towards the podium of the winning titles in the professional league for the 2020 season. Similarly, the company had a big impact on Al-Wehdat’s official appearance in the Jordanian Champions League representing the Jordanian football for the season 2021. The chairman confirmed that affairs currently head "towards renewing the sponsorship with Umniah."

The second rumor was published on media outlets concerning the alleged leg amputation of the artist Muteb Al-Saqqar. The Head of the Jordanian Artist’s Union, Hussein al-Khatib, said that the artist Muteb Al-Saqqar underwent an amputation of his toe due to complications with his diabetes.

 
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