Fake news sparks panic among Indonesia quake victims

The fake alerts about more earthquakes in Indonesia spread mostly through WhatsApp and other messaging services. (AFP)
Updated 08 October 2019

Fake news sparks panic among Indonesia quake victims

  • Fears about aftershocks have been aggravated by a stream of hoaxes and fake news that warned a tsunami-generating quake was about to strike

JAKARTA: Thousands of Indonesians are still in shelters nearly two weeks after a deadly earthquake sparked a stream of fake news and hoaxes warning that an even bigger disaster was looming, the government said Monday.

The local government has declared a state of emergency until Wednesday, with nearly 135,000 people in evacuation shelters and tents.

Many displaced people are too scared to return to their homes in the remote Maluku islands after the area suffered more than 1,000 aftershocks following a 6.5-magnitude quake on Sept. 26 that killed dozens and damaged scores of homes and other buildings, the agency said.

Terrified residents ran into the streets following the quake, which sparked landslides that buried at least one of the victims.

The strong jolt killed 37 people, including several young children, and injured dozens of others.

More than 6,000 houses were damaged, according to official figures.

Fears about aftershocks have been aggravated by a stream of hoaxes and fake news — mostly on WhatsApp and other messaging services — that warned a tsunami-generating quake was about to strike.

“It’s up to you if you want to believe me or not, but I talked with my relative and apparently Ambon is going to sink in the next few days,” said one message circulated on WhatsApp.

National disaster mitigation agency spokesman Agus Wibowo said the fake news was making a bad situation worse.

“There are so many hoaxes about a bigger earthquake and tsunami,” he told AFP.

“People are scared and so they chose to stay in shelters,” Wibowo added.

Even some whose houses weren’t damaged in the quake have refused to go home despite efforts to convince them it was safe, Wibowo said.

“Many people also thought they’re not allowed to go back during the state of emergency, which is actually false,” he added.

The Southeast Asian nation is one of the most disaster-prone nations on Earth.

It experiences frequent seismic and volcanic activity due to its position on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” where tectonic plates collide.

Last year, a 7.5-magnitude quake and a subsequent tsunami in Palu on Sulawesi island left more than 4,300 people dead or missing.

In 2004, a devastating 9.1-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Sumatra and triggered a tsunami that killed 220,000 throughout the region, including around 170,000 in Indonesia.


Turkey imposes advertising ban on Twitter, Periscope, Pinterest

Updated 19 January 2021

Turkey imposes advertising ban on Twitter, Periscope, Pinterest

  • Decisions in Official Gazette say the advertising bans went into effect from Tuesday

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s Information and Communication Technologies Authority has imposed advertising bans on Twitter, Periscope and Pinterest under a new social media law, according to decisions published in the country’s Official Gazette on Tuesday.
The law, which critics say will muzzle dissent, requires social media companies to appoint local representatives in Turkey. On Monday, Facebook joined other companies in saying it would be appointing such a representative.
YouTube, owned by Alphabet Inc’s Google, said a month ago it had decided to appoint a representative.
The decisions in the Official Gazette said the advertising bans went into effect from Tuesday. Twitter, its live-streaming app Periscope, and image sharing app Pinterest were not immediately available to comment.
The law allows authorities to remove content from platforms, rather than blocking access as they did in the past. The move has caused concern as people turn more to online platforms after Ankara tightened its grip on mainstream media.
In previous months Facebook, YouTube and Twitter had faced fines in Turkey for not complying with the law. Companies that do not follow the law will ultimately have their bandwidth slashed by 90 percent, essentially blocking access.