Flood scare messages back on social media

Chennai: As the North East monsoon has set it, social media is flooded with all kinds of information you need to get through the day – the favourable routes to take and giving out latest weather reports. Some frequently asked questions are – Which parts of the city are water-logged, which route is traffic congested? How long will the rains last for? These dedicated Facebook pages, news outlets and Twitter hash tags are doing great service by helping people in need.

But unfortunately, the same social media is also used to spread unverified and wrong news.

This morning (Tuesday) many woke up to WhatsApp messages saying that Sathyam Cinemas in Royapettah was being opened for people to come and stay and food packets will be available for those in need along with a list of help line numbers of volunteers.

The incessant rains which began on Sunday evening does bring back memories of the 2015 floods, it was social media which helped several people from flooded buildings and homes. Rescue missions were carried by simply posting a message, raise an alert and circulated emergency numbers.

However, this time around all the messages being circulated in 2015 are doing the rounds now.

On WhatsApp, several texts messages surprised users, ‘I got text message on a group saying that people living in inundated areas can reach a list of numbers for rescue and 5000 food packets and bed sheets were ready to be distributed along with phone numbers for it.

I was surprised and I thought things were really bad out there. Then the text message appeared very familiar and I found it was a message from the 2015 floods and pointed out in the group asking people to stop spreading such news,’ says Arvind, a resident of Pallavaram.

Anand Vaidyanathan, who runs the Facebook page TN Flood Support, now called as The New face of society was one of the active pages channelising information and relief material during the 2015 deluge.

He says, “Since the rains began, any negative news brings in hysteria. So on our page we share only weather and traffic updates. If we put out any kind of information which affects people, they will pack their bags and leave the city in fear, so we are very wary of it”, he said.

A long text message doing the rounds said, “Indian Navy- 10 of their expert divers and rescue personnel with boats at Gandhi Nagar (along with a contact number),  food packets are ready for distribution. SRM University is accommodating people in their buildings, whoever stranded in GST please go there. Sathyam Cinemas (Royapettah) will be open for everyone tonight for stay, do get in touch. Similar texts conveyed a number of phone numbers of people willing to help and another text with these information ended with the statement, “If you don’t share this, you are not a true Tamilan.”

When News Today dialed the numbers, the users either disconnected the call at the first ring or never picked the calls.

THE PROMINENT ONES
* Sathyam Cinemas (Royapettah) will be open for everyone tonight for stay, do get in touch.

* SRM University is accommodating people in their buildings, whoever stranded in GST please go there.

* Indian Navy- 10 of their expert divers and rescue personnel with boats at Gandhi Nagar (along with a contact number), food packets are ready for distribution.

 

         

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