Meedan is deeply saddened by the loss and devastation caused by the recent earthquake in Turkey and Syria. Our organization is committed to improving safe and equitable access to quality information during moments of crisis. As a result of this disaster we’re launching a Turkey and Syria Earthquake Response Fund. Our program managers are also reaching out to journalists in the region to express solidarity and offer assistance to collectives and organizations engaging in fact-checking related to the earthquake and its aftermath. 

To request media relief assistance from Meedan email hello@meedan.com with Earthquake Crisis in the subject line. 

Meedan’s crisis response currently includes technical assistance for teams seeking critical information distribution, as well as networking and financial support to partners in Turkey, Syria and other countries in the region. 

We are prioritizing support for on-the-ground journalism efforts to counter misinformation, verify relief and aid distribution and address harmful content. Meedan also continues to work closely with partners to learn how we can collectively respond to similar crises in the future.

“Meedan is committed to providing support to affected communities during times of disaster. Improving the integrity and reach of information and communication systems is meeting a fundamental need for the millions impacted,” said Ed Bice, CEO of Meedan.    

The spread of misinformation in the aftermath of the earthquake is making it harder to coordinate relief efforts, including the distribution of food, shelter and medicine. Researchers and journalists identified accounts run by scammers asking people to falsely donate aid money. Some fearmongering posts claimed that Syrian nationals were taking advantage of the chaos to loot homes. These claims and more have been debunked by fact-checking groups.

Media organizations, fact-checking initiatives and governments are so far responding to earthquake misinformation in a number of ways. The Turkish government introduced an app to combat online disinformation, while authorities in the country also blocked Twitter for about 12 hours after public criticism of the government's earthquake response. Turkish fact-checking initiative Teyit fact-checked around 67 claims in the first week of the catastrophe. Other civil society organizations and groups of volunteers built pages and groups to share information about missing people, food banks, shelter, and crowd-sourced data about homes and victims. A local charity called Ahbap launched its own Whatsapp bot to communicate with people affected by the earthquake. Fatabyyano, a Meedan partner and fact-checking initiative covering over 19 Arabic-speaking countries, is also fact-checking claims related to the earthquake.

For more information about Meedan’s response to the earthquake follow us on Twitter and subscribe to the Checklist

Tags
Misinformation
Crisis Response

Footnotes

  1. Online conversations are heavily influenced by news coverage, like the 2022 Supreme Court decision on abortion. The relationship is less clear between big breaking news and specific increases in online misinformation.
  2. The tweets analyzed were a random sample qualitatively coded as “misinformation” or “not misinformation” by two qualitative coders trained in public health and internet studies.
  3. This method used Twitter’s historical search API
  4. The peak was a significant outlier compared to days before it using Grubbs' test for outliers for Chemical Abortion (p<0.2 for the decision; p<0.003 for the leak) and Herbal Abortion (p<0.001 for the decision and leak).
  5. All our searches were case insensitive and could match substrings; so, “revers” matches “reverse”, “reversal”, etc.

References

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Published on
February 16, 2023