Social media posts can spread like wildfire during, and instantly after, a terror attack. This is particularly the case on Twitter where all breaking news travels fast. However, reactionary posts can feature disinformation and create panic due to their immediate nature. This is why it is essential to behave both responsibly and sensibly in the aftermath of a terrorist attack, as a user and also as a reader of social media. This provides support the victims of terrorist atrocities and to the police.
Below are some tips on How To Use Social Media Responsibly After A Terrorist Attack
1. News needs to come from official sources
It is vital not to just believe everything that you read on social media. It is a sad truth that in the moments after recent terrorist attacks in London and Manchester, some people started to spread ‘fake news’ on social media using false pictures of missing people. Most people have a genuine desire to help in the aftermath of a terrorist attack by retweeting positive messages and emotional appeals for any missing people, but these can be false messages created to boost the number of followers of unscrupulous trolls. Ensure you follow official sources like the emergency services, official government statements, and the National Crime Agency @NCA_UK for real news. Never tweet or retweet any information unless you know that it has been confirmed by a reliable source.
2. Talk to the police before social media
The initial hours after a terrorist attack are often the most critical for the emergency services. This means that if you do witness or document any activities from a terror incident, you need to get it to the police as soon as you can. However insignificant you think that it might be, it may be invaluable to them, so ensure that you contact the police first before posting anything online. You can contact Terrorism Police UK @TerrorismPolice and #ActionCountersTerrorism
3. Think about families
Real people are hurt during terrorist attacks. Often in all the confusion, families can be left unsure about what has happened to loved ones. Sharing images and videos of people in distress, with severe injuries or people lying on the ground can cause more anguish all around. Be mindful that these images once shared are there for everyone to see and share across the world.
Overall, after a terrorist event, it is important to be responsible and respectful when using social media.