Akeed - Afnan Madi
During the month of August, 33 rumors were tracked showing a decline from 40 in July.
Rumors in the month of August were marked by inconsistency in terms of the number of rumors in the breakdown of “rumor content.” At 14 rumors (43%), public affairs topped the list. Economic rumors dropped to seven rumors (21%). Security placed third with five rumors (15%). Political rumors came fourth with four rumors (12%). Social and health rumors placed fifth and sixth, standing at two (6%) and one rumors (3%) respectively.
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 30 in August (91%). However, three rumors came from external sources, constituting 9% of the total.
Akeed media monitoring revealed that 26 rumors came from social media sources (79%), ninety six percent of which was disseminated by local social media platforms while only one rumor was disseminated by external sources (4%).
The monitoring also revealed that media promulgated seven rumors (21%), two of which came from external sources (29%).
Public affairs constituted the majority of rumors in August, followed by economic, security, political, and social rumors respectively, with health rumors coming last.
Social Media Rumors Reported by Media Outlets
In August, one social media rumor was reported by media outlets. Also, the seven rumors (21%) promulgated by 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.
There was a noticeable drop in health rumors in August, where only one rumor was documented. In order to avoid receiving the COVID vaccine, the rumor pushed the possibility of receiving COVID 19 vaccination certificates without having received any doses of vaccine, a matter which was categorically denied by the Ministry of Health.
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.
Rumors surrounding public affairs mainly tackled education, Tawjihi results, and sports. Among the rumors, there were:
Vaccinated Students Get Extra Marks. The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research denied information published in one of the major newspapers regarding the granting of extra marks to vaccinated university students in order to encourage others to get their vaccines.
EU Grant Supports Remedial Education Program. The Ministry of Education denied information circulated on social media platforms regarding the Ministry of Education receiving an EU grant in support of the remedial education program, including the printing of the curricula and provision of meals and stationery to students and salaries of JD 400 per teacher.
MOY Imposes Decisions on Faysali. The Ministry of Youth denied circulated information that it imposed on al-Faysali Club to re-engage dismissed members, reduce membership fees, and cancel authorization given to its administration.
Defense Orders Suspended by September. Ministry of Health’s Secretary-General Adel al-Balbisi denied the suspension of the Defense Orders and further confirmed that they shall remain effective as all sectors resume their businesses in September.
Political rumors addressed several topics, the most prominent of which was about some Afghan nationals transiting through Jordan to the United States. Also, some social media platforms and media outlets circulated inaccurate information regarding classification of these Afghan nationals as refugees in Jordan. The Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates confirmed the inaccuracy of such information, explaining that the Afghans were only transiting through Jordan and left Jordanian soil after staying for only one week in the Kingdom.
The two social rumors promulgated during the month of August were about the passing of famous figures or the passing of their parents. However, the rumors were denied by the relevant families.
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.