There was a marked decline in the number of rumors during the month of July, slipping down from 50 the previous month to 40. July rumors were marked by an inconsistency in terms of the number of rumors in the breakdown of “rumor content”. Rumors surrounding public affairs constituted 50% of the total, or 20 of the 40 documented. Health and security rumors stood at 6 rumors each (15%). Economy placed third with 4 rumors (10%). Political rumors came fourth with 3 rumors (8%). Finally, Social rumors placed last with 1 rumor (2%).
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. Akeed monitoring revealed that rumors from internal (domestic?) sources, whether from social media platforms or news sites, stood at 38 in July (95%) with only two rumors originating from external sources (5%).
Rumors by Means of Publication
Akeed media monitoring revealed that 34 rumors came from social media sources (85%), all of which were disseminated by local social media platforms (100%). The monitoring also revealed that the media promulgated 6 rumors (15%).
Rumor ContentPublic affairs rumors topped the list. Health and security rumors came second. Economic and political rumors placed third and fourth respectively. And social rumors came last.
Social Media Rumors Reported by Media OutletsIn July, 3 social media rumors were reported by media outlets. Also, the 6 rumors (15%) promulgated by the media included two rumors from external sources.
Pervasive Rumors by Topic
Below are some of the most pervasive rumors by topic propagated on social media platforms or by media outlets monitored by Akeed
Health Rumors:Health rumors tackled several issues, the most dominant of which were the recent electric blackout and oxygen depletion in some hospitals. Other circulated headlines included:
Salt Hospital Lacks Oxygen.Hospital Director Dr. Ali Izzat al-Abdullat denied the lack of oxygen supplies for patients clarifying that some may have heard soft explosion-like noises while oxygen cylinders were being filled and assumed that the hospital lost its oxygen supplies. However, these noises were generated by air leakage in pipelines during the filling process, which does not suggest that the hospital lost its oxygen supplies.
Electric Blackout in Gardens Hospital.The Chairman of the Health Committee of the Lower House Ahmad al-Sarahneh said that the electric blackout occured in one section of the hospital while generators remained operational in other sections of hospital.
Gas Cylinder Exploded in Marka Hospital. Social media accounts circulated information on the explosion of a gas cylinder in the Marka Specialty Hospital, which was categorically denied by the Chairman of the Private Hospitals Association Dr. Fawzi al-Hammouri.
Public Affairs Rumors:
Akeed devised a new classification for public affairs focused rumors. This included education, higher education, labor unions, and decisions related to official and national holidays.Public affairs rumors pertinent to Tawjihi exams continued to spread in July. It was circulated that some Tawjihi subjects’ questions were leaked ahead of examination dates. However, the Ministry of Education denied this information clarifying that some information was leaked due to rules and regulation transgressions by some students who brought their cell phones to exam rooms. Among the rumors, there are:
Shark Caught in Aqaba.The Chief Commissioner of the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Eng. Nayef al-Bakheet stated that the video circulated on social media platforms showing shark fishing in Aqaba is an old one that goes back to 2013.
RBT Users Treated with Glass of Water, Chocolate. The Spokesperson of Greater Amman Municipality Naser Rahamneh denied treating Rapid Bus Transit users with glasses of water and chocolate as circulated on social media platforms.
Farm Weapons, Tobacco Production Line Seized. Some social media platforms published a number of photos of a security raid that took place in a farm where a tobacco production line, weapons, and funds were found. Public Security Directorate Spokesperson confirmed that the inaccuracy of this information which references old news.
Some economic rumors included the increase of water prices and factory closures as a result of the rise in Delta variant infections. Below are more economic rumors circulated in the media.
Iraqis Denied Work in Jordan.Minister of Labor Yousef el-Shamali denied the existence of any restrictions placed on Iraqis working in Jordan stressing the need for information verification prior to publishing.
Non-Citizen Children of Jordanian Mothers Must Obtain Work Permits. The Chairman of the Labor and Social Development Committee of the Lower House MP Hussein al-Harasees denied that non-citizen children born to Jordanian mothers and non-Jordanian fathers to obtain work permits. He further explained that obtaining work permits is only applicable to non-Jordanians from the Gaza Strip.
Political rumors addressed several topics. One of the dominant rumors was about five Jordaniansinfiltrating the Jordanian-Israeli borders, which was denied by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates adding that the infiltrators were non-Jordanians.
Social rumors included an alleged attack on a person with special needs by a mosque imam. The Ministry of Islamic Endowment (Awqaf) explained that the perpetrator is a relative of the victim and the imam, along with the prayer performers, were protecting the victim.
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 ambiguity 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.