Social media is going wild over Hurricane Irma, so FEMA has set up ‘Rumor Control’

One of the best false rumors about Hurricane Irma came via Twitter.
One of the best false rumors about Hurricane Irma came via Twitter.

One of the most popular images on Twitter the past week was a TV screen shot of CNN “reporting” aircraft had seen sharks lifted by Hurricane Irma’s 185 mph winds.

“Irma now contains sharks,” said the headline.

The image was fake, of course, but shows why FEMA might feel compelled to create a web page for fact-checking Hurricane Irma social media rumors.

“There is a lot of misinformation circulating online,” explained FEMA on its site. “Because rumors spread fast, please share this page and help us provide accurate information.”

FEMA says the site will be a growing list and any popular internet rumor is fair game. This includes, for example, a rumor that hurricane flood waters carry the Plague (false) and a belief that undocumented immigrants will be arrested if they go to emergency shelters. (That’s also false.)

Among the questions addressed so far on Irma:

  • Is it true that emergency shelters are required to accommodate pets and service animals of evacuees? TRUE.
  • Is it true property owners forfeit federal disaster assistance if they clean up flood-damaged properties? FALSE.
  • Is it true that gas stations in Florida are experiencing outages? TRUE.

Scam warnings are also included, as well as advice on what evacuees should do before they try going back home. (Check in with local officials for conditions.)

To visit the FEMA page, click here.