Internews explains that disaster-affected communities are often in a disadvantaged position to access information. Infrastructure damage and a tendency of media to report on disaster survivors rather than for them further hinders communication. All this means that traditional media channels often don’t reach the people most in need of information or give them the necessary information. Hence, affected communities often get their information from hearsay — from stories that circulate amongst their groups with limited means to fact-checking. Rumours are problematic because, in a crisis, a misunderstood or intentionally misleading message can cause panic, be harmful if advocating a certain type of action, or inflame an existing conflict. Per Internews: «Accessing trustworthy information is the key to taking control of your own survival and being able to recover.»
Internews first developed our rumour tracking methodology in 2014 in Liberia, in order to address the deadly Ebola outbreak. Since then, we’ve implemented rumour tracking as a way to address misinformation during humanitarian crises in numerous countries and contexts, reaching hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries.
This guide was authored by Viviane Lucia Fluck, PhD, and produced with financial support from the United States Agency for International Development.
The rumor tracking methodology, which is part of Internews’ Learning Collection, includes three parts: Context, Case Studies, and a How To Guide. The How To Guide is usually packaged separately for ease of use.
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