Blog: H1N1 shows gov’t needs social media

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

On the blog Social Media Strategery, Michael Dumlao writes about how the rapid viral spread of disinformation about H1N1 showed the need for government agencies to engage the public directly via social media and to provide steady streams of accessible, accurate information in order to control rumors similar to those delivered by the Centers for Disease Control via Twitter.

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Dumlao quotes Department of Defense new and social media director Jack Holt as saying that if the government is not an active participant in the social media universe, then it abdicates control of that arena to folks who are, and to folks who may be impersonating government agencies, either directly or indirectly. Therefore, Dumlao says, it’s the government’s job to engage social media and protect the public from potentially malicious or damaging disinformation.

Dumlao chronicles the well-documented spread of H1N1 disinformation and how it was contained once formal media started to address the inaccurate claims, and suggests that the government must use social media to monitor the spread false information at the same time that it is using it to disseminate a more accurate picture of events.

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