Social networks, where in emergency situations there is a huge amount of inaccurate information, rumors and outright fakes could cause mass panic among the population. Additionally, with such incorrect information could start an uncontrollable wave of aggression.

As stated by the Director of the center of emergency psychological assistance (cap) of EMERCOM of Russia Yulia Shoigu, the daughter of the current Minister of defense, has for 17 years head of CAPP, the main problem with the appearance of these fakes during an emergency – “this is the danger of mass reactions, which often in its scale and consequences can be very serious.” “People read fake news, it usually spreads rapidly, accumulates details that is placed in the socio-psychological regularities. Such rumors can increase risks of panic, aggression – reactions which may be unsafe, especially in the area of emergency response,” – said in an interview with TASS Yulia Shoigu.

As an example, the head of CAPP cited the situation around the fire in the Kemerovo shopping centre, “Winter cherry” in March 2018. Then in social networks and instant messengers has information on several hundred. As a result, the hotline began to receive a lot of calls. “In this situation, our task was not to persuade people, and to understand whether he has any information that can help us Refine the lists of people who were in the Mall. We are very attentive to every call that allowed to quickly make a list of who was in the shopping center. Moreover, fairly quickly, during the night, together with colleagues from other services we found people who managed to get out alive, but which it could not find the relatives”, – told Shoigu.

However, she noted that it is impossible to protect people from information, but it must be reliable and verified. “According to our observations, lack of information or incorrect information submitted are one of the factors that weight the psychological condition of any person during emergency situation”, – said the head of psychological service of EMERCOM, 17 September marks the 20th anniversary.

Rumors, panic, withholding of information, distrust and the view that “the state will not tell the truth”

Cases when panic born because of false information in social networks, would lead to casualties, in Russia yet was not. But mass panic and rumors spread via the Internet – the phenomenon is quite common and, as noted by psychologists, their credibility is not important.

When at the end of 2015 in Tatarstan was to spread information about arriving to the Republic of dozens of death row, believe it immediately and unconditionally. The same messages about impending terrorist attacks was through social networks and by SMS. First, the information related only in Tatarstan, but soon these messages were sent throughout Russia: “Dear parents! Please note. According to the interior Ministry, in Russia mishandled 18 suicide bombers, the next weekend a possible act of terrorism in shopping malls. Warn friends and loved ones.”

The data about where it was sent bombers, varied: in Moscow, in Russia, in Samara, Tatarstan, and so on. As sources of such information is called FSO, FSB, the interior Ministry, the government, etc. the authors of the newsletters referred to a friend of his friends working in the civil service. Fake newsletter about the terrorists has reached such proportions that the interior Ministry had to make a statement and start the investigation.

It is worth mentioning the “incessant” fake web warning many years wandering around social networks – supposedly in theaters, ATMs and public transport Russia there are needles, have HIV, or unknown attack victims with syringes, threatening infection. This phenomenon even gave a name – “injecting terrorism”.

At the same time, some mass distribution in a Network, on the contrary, attracting the attention of law enforcement, have led to the investigation and in the end turned out to be true. About the so-called gang GTA, killed more than 10 people on suburban routes, originally became known from social networks, where he went mass mailing that “the morgues are overcrowded Voskresensk near Moscow” the bodies of the victims of “road killers”. Rumor attributes the criminals to 40 murders. Official sources for a long time, these rumors did not comment, but soon the “gang GTA” was found, criminals caught or eliminated.

According to experts, the rumors have always lived hand in hand with the truth, and their appearance cannot be attributed only to somebody’s malicious desire to harm.

Rumors are born each disaster and each incident. The reason for that and post-traumatic stress reaction in humans, projecting grief on themselves, and the desire for hype, and even someone’s morbid sense of humor.

Rumors always come from a lack of reliable information or even any information as such. Intentional concealment of information also leads to what appears popular version of what happened.

The case of the spread of information about “hundreds of bodies” in the Mall “Winter cherry” in Kemerovo has shown that citizens do not trust the official data, considering that the state is never the truth not to say that justice never will achieve, that the blame will always be the scapegoat, but guilty no punishment will be incurred. Previous emergency and terrorist attacks, when reliable information was “leaked” years after the tragic events, only confirms such beliefs. So it was with official information about the terrorist attack on Dubrovka, it was information from the authorities on the terrorist attack in the Beslan school

In a society where lack of trust to official information and the official media, people eventually cease to trust any information and it is replaced by rumor. Citizens, confident that the government conceals from them important information ceases to trust both state and opposition media. In this case any denial of the rumor only confirms it.

The issue of false messages in the Network is quite complicated, so as to distinguish just unverified information from false is almost impossible. To control its spread can neither one government Agency, but the desire is there.

In March 2019, the state Duma adopted the so-called law of fake news – approved amendments to the law “On information, information technologies and protection of information”, as well as changes to the Code of administrative offences aimed at combating the spread of false public interest information disseminated under the guise of reliable reports and “threatening the security of citizens”.

In accordance with the law, it is illegal to distribute fake messages that “create a threat of harm to life and (or) to health of citizens, property, the threat of mass violations of public order and (or) to public safety or a threat of interference to the operation or cessation of operation of vital infrastructure, transport or social infrastructure, credit institutions, the power industry, or communications.”

The fines established in the range of 30-100 thousand rubles for citizens, 60-200 thousand rubles – for officials and 200-500 thousand rubles for legal entities, with the possible confiscation subject of an administrative offense.

If the result of the publication of false information people died, suffered injury or property, there was a mass violation of public order and security or failure in the functioning of objects of transport or social infrastructure, communications, energy, industry, banks, the fine for citizens will amount to 400 thousand rubles, for officials – up to 900 thousand rubles, for legal entities – up to 1.5 million rubles.