How Should We Handle Misinformation?

by Patrick Liew on September 7, 2016

As we come to grips with the Zika outbreak, a major concern is the lies, half-truths and misconceptions about the outbreak floating around the Net and in public places.

It’s also unfortunate that some political opportunists are exploiting the situation to win social currency. They are fanning unnecessary dissatisfaction about our leaders and distrust for the authorities.

Many of the fear mongers seem to believe they are contributing to the situation without realizing they can potentially cause a backlash of anxiety and even panic and unrest. Over time, they may also erode the fabric of our community and society.

While the recalcitrants and misinformation are very much under control, what will happen if similar responses happen during a major crisis such as a terrorist attack? Will such negative influences cause undue repercussions and outcomes?

As social media and word-of-mouth can spread real and perceived news faster than mainstream media, there should be systems and procedures to contain root causes of negative publicity.

We have to proactively prevent, respond to, and resolve negative communications during a crisis and ensure that they do not take roots and become viral.

We need to ring fence our people mentally and emotionally so that they’ll not fall into a state of unhealthy fear and paranoia.

They should be able to get key information and regular updates to help them stay calm and collected. They should also be clear about tackling any crisis and be confident in playing their parts and taking appropriate protective measures.
In addition, they should be able to live normally and enjoy the joys of life. At the same time, they should take responsibility for their own security whether they are in Singapore or overseas.

They should stay vigilant in reporting suspicious activities and help to prevent a crisis.

While the authorities have done a good job in communicating to the public, there should also be systems in place to recruit and retain volunteers to help carry out crisis-response plans and activities.

During a crisis, we need appropriate volunteers to help our people stay calm, be patient, and take proper actions. We need to promote active citizenry to help stamp out all forms of negativity.

We need more helping hands to prevent any confusion, conflict and challenge that will affect our unity as a people, regardless of race, language and religion.


I hope this message will find a place in your heart.

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