Akeed - Afnan Madi
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.
Pervasive Rumors by Topic
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.
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.
Security and governmental bodies denied several rumors in July, the most notable of which were:
Woman Lures, Drugs, Robs Another Woman. A security source denied that any such information was received regarding a woman that drugged another in order to rob her.
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.
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.
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.