EDITORIAL - First fake news,  now fake weather reports?

The Freeman

Earlier this week there was a bit of concern among Cebuanos after news spread in social media that a strong typhoon would be coming to Cebu on Wednesday.

The report itself appeared to be convincing, the article even had tracking photos that made it look ‘official’.

Of course, Wednesday came and went with no such weather phenomenon appearing.

Now the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) is warning people not to believe in fake weather reports.

That’s just great, so now we don’t only have to worry about people manufacturing fake news anymore; now we also have to watch out for unscrupulous individuals making up false weather reports.

The purpose of fake news we understand; these are usually published with the overall end goal to sway public opinion on a certain topic. But fake weather reports? To what end? To sow panic and fear, or just to pass the time and relieve boredom?

And considering how fast fake news can travel on social media as well as the Marites grapevine --usually because of genuine concern we have for family members, friends, neighbors, and other associates-- it's only a matter of time before information, whether true or not, reaches many people.

In an ideal world we should be able to discern between what is a real weather report and what isn’t. But of course, not everyone is capable of doing this and almost anyone can just manufacture a report and make it official-looking with a few photos and images.

In this case the best thing we can do is at least check with multiple sources as well as verified ones, including PAGASA, before spreading such information.

No, this isn’t something to which we can just say “weather-weather lang ‘yan.” Adverse weather reports, especially after howlers like Yolanda and Odette, tend to disrupt social and economic activity as well as cause panic.

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