The highest in 3 years
Akeed— During its April monitoring, the Jordanian Media Credibility Monitor (“Akeed”) tracked the highest number of rumors since 2018. The month of April found 80 rumors during the month, of which 21 were from external sources (26% of total rumors) and 46 through social media accounts (57% of total rumors).
Akeed daily monitoring showed that 42 rumors were about Jordanian public affairs (53%) and 21 rumors were about destabilization of Jordan (26%), or what is called sedition”, a topic that created a conducive environment for rumors from external/foreign media sources in particular. However, such rumors were not adopted nor perpetuated by any local media outlets, but, they were circulated by local social media platforms and through the WhatsApp application.
Monitoring also revealed an increased number of rumors in comparison to the first quarter of the year. Thirty seven rumors were documented
In April, 59 rumors were generated from internal/local sources while 21 rumors came from foreign media sources. Media outlets reported on 34 rumors (43%) and social media platforms perpetuated 46 rumors (57%).
Public affairs rumors came at the top of the list, with 42 documented rumors (53%). Health rumors came second on the list at 15 rumors (19%). Economic rumors came third with 9 rumors (11%). Political rumors came fourth with 6 rumors (7%). Security rumors came fifth at 5 rumors (6%). Finally, social rumors came sixth on the list at 3 rumors (4%).
Rumor Source by Origin
A qualitative and quantitative methodology was used to monitor “rumors by topic” on electronic news sites, social media platforms, and media outlets. The monitoring revealed that rumors from local sources, whether from social media platforms or news sites, totaled 59 in April (74% of total rumors). However, of those, only 21 rumors in April (26% of total rumors) came from foreign media sources.
Rumors by Means of Publication
Akeed media monitoring revealed that 46 rumors came from social media sources (57%); 25 of which were disseminated through local social media platforms (54%) while 21 rumors were reported in external accounts (46%).
The number of rumors promulgated by media was 34 (43%), however, Local media outlets did not adopt the 21 rumors concerned with the destabilization of Jordan that were generated by external sources.
Akeed classified “rumors by content” into the following six groups: public affairs, politics, social matters, security, economics, and health.
Public affairs rumors came at the top of the list, with 42 documented rumors (53%). Health rumors came second on the list at 15 rumors (19%). Economic rumors came third with 9 rumors (11%). Political rumors came fourth with 6 rumors (7%). Security rumors came fifth at 5 rumors (6%). Coming in last in sixth place with 3 rumors (4%) are social rumors.
Social Media Rumors Reported by Media Outlets
Ten rumors (12%) shared on social media platforms were reported by news sites in April. Their percentage is less than the percentage of rumors that were reported by media in the first quarter. The rumors focused on public affairs, health, economic, and social issues.
Pervasive Rumors by Topic
Below are some of the most pervasive rumors by topic propagated on social media platforms and media outlets monitored by Akeed.
April health rumors were 19% of total rumors and focused on vaccines and COVID-19 variants. While not an exhaustive list, some of the rumors monitored were on the following topics: MOH responds to occupation MOH on myocarditis linked to Pfizer-BioNtech COVID 19 vaccine; MOH: No evidence that Indian variant resists vaccines; MOH: No recommendations made for 3 doses of vaccine.
Public Affairs Rumors:
In early May, Akeed devised a new classification for rumors concerned with public affairs. This included education, higher education, labor unions, and decisions related to official and national holidays. This month, rumors concerned with destabilization of Jordan were added to the classification.
Comprising of 53% of total rumors, some of the public affairs rumors that were trending on social media and local media outlets were on: Awadallah’s lawyer: Awadallah isn’t harmed, in secret place, visited in detention & some investigations reviewed; GAM denies Guinness refusal of longest flag in the world; Businessman Talal Abu Ghazaleh still alive; Arab world map misses Palestinian flag on Darsak platform; MODE uses link to cancel permits.
Security and governmental bodies denied several rumors in April, most notable of which were: Lese majeste cases suspended; Bus driver with knife reflects bus drivers’ common attitude; Traffic Department actively seeks tickets; Murder in Shouneh.
The most pervasive economic rumors in April included the Ministry of Agriculture granting commercial licenses to import cows to two companies. Another rumor was about an announcement claiming that the Jordan Petroleum Refinery has vacancies; however, the Refinery denied this news and stated that the announcement presented misinformation. Also, foreign social media pages claimed the existence of exchange and investment companies abroad, without mentioning credible sources. A third rumor was about slaughterhouse chickens injected with water , which was denied by the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) as stated by Amman Slaughterhouse Manager Shadi Othman. Mr. Othman said that the trending news on injecting slaughterhouse chickens with water is incorrect. The chickens are fully free of water and the slaughterhouse has nothing to do with water found inside the chickens, he added. The Manager also noted that the chickens, before being packaged, are washed in cold water, sterilized with O3 at 4-6 Celsius, and put in a refrigerator for 25 minutes to let dry.
Some of political rumors in April included some foreign media reporting that Jordan banished Arabs from Jordan, which Jordan officially denied. Jordan stated that the concerned Arabs were visiting Jordan for medical treatment and they voluntarily left after the treatment was completed. It was also reiterated that Amman observes international treaties and charters it signed and respects refugee rights. Another rumor posted by social media platforms was the appointment of a hair dresser as a first secretary in the Embassy of Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Biuret, which Jordan also denied.
Social rumors totaled at 3 rumors in April. One of the rumors was about an Official letter not sent to Al-Rai chief editor. Former Al-Rai Chairman of Board of Directors, Mohammad Hassan Al-Tal, categorically denied that the leaked letter on former Chief Editor of Al-Ri Rakan Al-Sa’aydeh is an official letter. He added that he is not involved in the leakage, and the letter was developed under pressure practiced by some of the board members; however, it has never been considered official.
Heaven Birds Channel founder & manager Khalid Miqdad dies was another rumor spread in April. However, Ibrahim Silawi denied this news. In his post on Facebook, he noted: “I assure all of you that Khalid Miqdad (Abu Al-Waleed) is doing well … and we pray to God to bless him with good health. His death news is just a rumor.”
Akeed suggests that the rule of thumb for handling content produced by social media users is avoiding re-posting unless sources are verified and credible. Referring to social media users as sources of news without verifying the veracity of information shared results in the spread of misinformation and promulgation of rumors.
That said, Akeed’s monitoring identified rumors that are either obviously incorrect information or news that was proven wrong a few days following publication.
In addition, Akeed has developed a set of main principles for the verification of content produced by users, whether the content is visual, written, or audio. The principles encourage content consumers to raise a number of questions that help with discernment and guides users in their decision on whether or not to publish the content of a given product.
Akeed has also developed a rumor monitoring methodology. According to Akeed’s methodology, a rumor is defined as “misinformation relating to Jordanian public affairs and the general interest that has spread via digital media to reach more than approximately 5,000 people”.
Rumors usually prosper in unusual conditions, such as crises, wars, natural disasters, and others. However, this does not mean that they cannot spread in normal conditions. It is also known that rumors are notably promulgated in different social, political, and cultural environments. The speed at which rumors are spread depends on their levels of mystery and content impact.