75 Rumors in May, Health Tops Rumors List Again

Akeed- Afnan Madi

 

May accounted for 75 rumors, a decline from the 80 rumors identified the previous month.

May rumors were remarkably different in terms of the breakdown of “rumors by content”.  At 26 rumors (35%, health topped the list.  Public affairs came next on the list with 18 rumors (24%).  Security came third with 12 rumors (16%).  Economic, social, and political rumors came last with less than 10%.

 

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 internal sources, whether from social media platforms or news sites, totaled 68 in May (91% of total rumors).  However, only seven rumors came from external sources (9%). 

 

 
Rumors by means of publication

 

Akeed media monitoring revealed that 54 rumors came from social media sources (72%); 52 of which were disseminated through local social media platforms (96%) while two rumors were disseminated through external social media platforms (4%).

 

Monitoring also revealed that the number of rumors promulgated by media was 21 (28%), of which, five were generated by external media outlets, most notably of which were rumors on the handling of protesters in Al-Ghor which were disseminated by the Israeli media.  

 

 Rumor content

 

Health rumors came at the top of the list.  Public affairs and security rumors came second and third respectively.  Economic rumors came fourth with seven rumors (9%), followed by political and social rumors that equally came fifth with six rumors (8%).

 

Social media rumors reported by media outlets

 

Seven rumors (33%) shared on social media platforms were reported by news sites in May.  However, the percentage of rumors generated by foreign media and reported by local media was 19%--   that is four out of 21 rumors in total disseminated by media.  

 

 Pervasive rumors by topic

 

Below are some of the most pervasive rumors by topic propagated on social media platforms and by media outlets monitored by Akeed.

 

Health rumors:

 

 
          Health rumors mainly surrounded the topic of COVID-19 and its vaccines.  Some of the rumors spread fear from side-effects caused by the vaccines; a matter that is not supported by scientific evidence.  Other health rumors also included:

 

Eighty tourists contracted COVID-19 in Aqaba. Activists on social media circulated information about eighty tourists who contracted COVID-19 in early May in Aqaba.  The deputy director of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority denied this information, stating that only one tourist tested positive and she was put in quarantine immediately.
 

 

 

JAF personnel hospitalized. A military source denied information circulated on social media regarding adverse side-effects  that some personnel of the Jordan Armed Forces experienced following the administration of the COVID-19 vaccines which required their admission  to the Royal Medical Services hospitals.  The source stressed that there were no unusual side-effects  experienced by JAF personnel since the vaccination campaign started.

 

 

UOJ hospital has no oxygen. Minister of Health Firas Hawwari denied information circulated on the lack of oxygen supplies at the University of Jordan hospital and other private hospitals, adding  that oxygen is available in sufficient amounts in these hospitals.

 

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.

 

 

        One of the public affairs rumors circulated on social media was about moving back to classroom teaching at universities by the summer term.  However, no official decision was made by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in this regard.  In addition, rumors related to changes in water distribution and water share per capita continued on social media.  Other public affairs rumors also included:
 

 

 

Jordan’s electric system infiltrated .The director of the Jordanian Electric Power Company denied information circulated by some media outlets and social media platforms on having Jordan’s electric system electromagnetically infiltrated by a hostile entity, which resulted in a disruption in the national electric services on Friday, May 21st.  Several rumors were circulated on the possible causes of the power disruption, and Jordan’s dependence on Egypt to fulfill its electricity needs.

 

 

Chinese rocket causes global panic. Some media outlets and social media platforms focused their reporting on the Chinese rocket claiming that Jordan is under threat by rocket debris.  It was also claimed that the rocket was seen passing by above certain cities, as some photos revealed, which later turned out to be fabricated.

 

 

Security rumors:
 

 

 

      Governmental and security bodies denied several rumors in May, the most notable of which was the application of a full or partial curfew during Eid El-Fitr.  Other security rumors included:  

COVID-19 vaccine is a must for vehicle licensing. A security source denied news circulated on making COVID-19 vaccines mandatory in order to process applications for driving and vehicle licenses of public vehicles.  

 

 

Mass shooting in Jordan-- video. A video was circulated showing people in crossfire, allegedly taking place in Jordan.  However, a security source denied this video and stated that it was filmed in a neighboring country.

 

Economic rumors:

 

 
        Economic rumors included paying employees their salaries prior to Eid El-Fitr, which was denied by employers.  Below are more economic rumors that were circulated in May.
 
JD 3000 subsidy for charities. Some social media pages started a rumor whereby charities received a JD 3000 subsidy per charity, granted by a foreign party and distributed by the Ministry of Social Development.  However, the Ministry denied this news, encouraging citizens instead, to ignore rumors and seek information from official sources instead.

 

 95-0ctane shipment mixed with reagent. Jordan Standards and Metrology Organization denied information circulated on the pollution of a full 95-octane shipment by the reagent used to detect fuel mixtures.  It noted that the shipment was partially polluted while 95-octane was being poured in tanks.  Prior to the incident, the shipment adhered to Jordan’s relevant technical criteria, the Organization added.

 

Political rumors:

 

 
        Israeli media disseminated a number of rumors on the handling of protests in Al-Ghor.  Some media outlets and social media platforms circulated this news, without paying attention to its source.  Political rumors also tackled other issues, most notably:
 

Ghannem turns down meetings in Jordan . Social media platforms circulated concerning news about Kuwaiti Speaker of the National Assembly Marzoq Ghannem turning down invitations for parliamentary meetings in Jordan.  Ghannem denied this news, stressing that he would be honored to accept any meeting invitations to visit Jordan.

 

 

Ministers resign. The resignation of several ministers was another rumor that spread repeatedly in May.  Among the ministers revealed by the rumor were Minister of Information Sakher Doudeen and Minister of Energy Hala Zawati.  However, the rumor was altogether denied by official sources.

 

 

 

Social rumors:

 

       Social rumors tackled awkward marriage and divorce stories.  They included a woman divorced because of the suhur meal; another forced her husband-to-be to marry her friend; an artiste committed suicide, and a controversial person was beaten and their car burnt.  However, the most awkward rumor of all was:

 

 

Mansaf is Israeli cuisine. Israeli Arabic-Language newspapers claimed that Mansaf, which is a popular Jordanian cuisine and part of Jordan’s heritage, is a popular Israeli cuisine in Ramadan.  

 

The rumor was ridiculed by news followers.

     Akeed suggests that as a general rule, when dealing with content produced by social media users, avoid 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.

 

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.  

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