June witnessed a noticeable drop in the number of rumors to 50 from 75 in May.
The breakdown of June “rumors by content” were similar to those from the previous month. Public affairs topped the list at 13 rumors (26%); Health placed next on the list with 12 (24%); the economy was third with 8 (16%); Security and political rumors came fourth at 12%; and, social rumors placed last at 5 (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 49 in June (98% of total rumors). However, only one rumor came from external sources (2%).
Rumors by Means of Publication
Akeed media monitoring revealed that 46 rumors came from social media sources (92%); 45 of which were disseminated by local social media platforms (98%) while one rumor was disseminated by external social media platforms (2%).
The monitoring also revealed that media promulgated four rumors (8%), all generated locally.
Public affairs rumors topped the list. Health and economic rumors came second and third, respectively. Political and security rumors came fourth with six rumors each, followed by social rumors that came fifth with five rumors.
Social Media Rumors Reported by Media Outlets
In June, there were no social media rumors reported by media outlets. The four rumors (8%) promulgated by media were 100% locally generated, i.e. no rumors were generated by external media sources and disseminated by local 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.
Some health rumors surrounding COVID-19 and its vaccines continued to spread. However, the most dominant topic was watermelon poisoning and relevant safety concerns. Other circulated headlines included:
Karak Hospital Lacks Oxygen:Karak Hospital Director Dr. Mua’th al-Maa’ytah denied the lack of oxygen supplies in the hospital, stressing that it has three full tanks of oxygen.
Sinopharm Takers Invited To MOH:The Ministry of Health confirmed that there is no intent to change its vaccination plan, and denied news circulated on requesting the Sinopharm vaccine takers to visit the Ministry for a new plan.
Nitrate Watermelons Are Not Dangerous:Agricultural Engineers Union corrected misinformation circulated on the safety of local watermelons containing nitrates, noting that the percentage of nitrates in local watermelons is not toxic but normal, and would not cause health issues to consumers.
Public Affairs Rumors:
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.
Some of public affairs rumors circulated on social media platforms included the stipulation of mandatory COVID-19 vaccination as a pre-requisite for Tawjihi students to sit for exams, and the further shortening of the Tawjihi curricula required for students. Below are more examples of public affairs rumors circulated in media:
Tawjihi Passing Scores Remain Unchanged:Exams Administration Director Ali Hammad said that the Ministry [of Education] will not lower Tawjihi passing scores. Each student will be given fair scores, and the official Tawjihi curricula will not be further shortened, Hammad added.
Security and governmental bodies denied several rumors in June, the most notable of which was related to the cancellation of partial curfew. Other security rumors included:
20 Suffocation Cases In Irbid:Security bodies arrested the person who started a rumor on his Facebook page on suffocation and faintness cases in Irbid. Irbid Governor Rudwan al-Otoom denied such incidents.
Person Imprisoned For 65 Years For Civil Debt:The Judicial Council denied news circulated on the imprisonment of a person for 65 years for a civil debt. According to the [Council’s] database, the person was sentenced to 390 days in prison.
Some economic rumors focused on fake advertisements on behalf of the Qatari Embassy in Jordan, asking for funds or bank information in exchange for work visas. Another rumor was the rise of apartment prices, which was denied by the Head of the National Association for Consumer Protection. Other economic rumors also included:
50,000 Tourism Workers Laid Off:The Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Nayef al-Fayez denied the layoffs of 50,000 tourism sector workers adding that the total number of workers in the tourism sector currently stands at about 52,000.
Political rumors tackled several topics, the most notable of which was:
State-Religion Amendment To Constitution: The Chair of the Royal Committee on Political System Modernization Senator Samir al-Rifa’i denied news that was circulated on amending the state religion. He further stated that such news is not realistic and misrepresents the fundamentals of our country.
Social rumors included the diagnosis of a former member of parliament of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT). Other rumors included a video posted by a girl, in which she claimed to be a victim of domestic violence which was countered by the Family Protection Department noting that the girl is safe and not in danger. An old video of a man wandering naked in Amman streets was also re-posted in June.
Akeed recommends 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 audio-visual or print. 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. Accordingly, 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 circumstances, such as crises, wars, natural disasters, and others. However, this does not mean that they cannot spread when circumstances are normal as well. 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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One of the projects of the Jordan Media Institute was established with the support of the King Abdullah II Fund for Development, and it is a tool for media accountability, which works within a scientific methodology in following up the credibility of what is published on the Jordanian media according to declared standards.