Social media is a very powerful and useful tool that can allow people to pass along important information during a crisis. This was the case during the recent Hurricane Harvey in Houston. Unfortunately, inaccurate information can spread just as quickly on social media. This is what is happening right now regarding Hurricane Irma. This hurricane has already destroyed most of the buildings on the small island of Barbuda and left almost one million people without electricity in Puerto Rico. As if that was not bad enough, many people are spreading false information about Hurricane Irma on social media that is creating widespread panic. Hurricane Irma is predicted to reach Florida on Saturday evening.
Unfortunately, pranksters have taken to their social media accounts and created some rather elaborate lies concerning the strength and trajectory of the approaching Hurricane Irma. Some fake reports claim that Irma is on a collision course with Houston. This information includes fake meteorological maps that look very real and professional. However, there is no evidence that Irma will have any contact with the state of Texas whatsoever. There have also been numerous false reports on social media that Irma will be a Category 6 and the most powerful hurricane ever recorded. This is impossible because the scale to measure the intensity of hurricanes does not go any higher than Category 5.
The power of social media to connect people is the main reason why these fake stories about Irma are able to go viral so quickly. People share the fake stories with their followers and then tens of thousands of people are reading them in just a couple of hours. The fake Hurricane Irma stories have become so prevalent on social media that major news organizations are now taking time to warn people about them. CNN and Fox News have both done special reports about the spread of fake news concerning Irma. However, it is doubtful that this will stop pranksters from creating more click bait Hurricane Irma stories in the days before the storm reaches Florida on Saturday.
Meteorologists from many of the major news organizations are warning people to be very selective about where they get their Irma information. They are telling people not to believe everything they read on social media. People who use social media are being advised to question everything they read about Irma. You should always consider the source of the info you are reading.