Misuse of Information Technologies and Reliability of Information in New Media
Authors: Scifo, S., Baruh, L. and Watson, H.
Editors: Khosrow-Pour, M.
Publisher: IGI Global
Place of Publication: Hersey, PA (USA)
According to Hermann (1963), there are three distinguishable features that separate a “crisis” from other ill-fated occurrences: surprise, threat, and a short response time. These elements relate to a sudden change from the norm, where the everyday workings of a community are disrupted and subsequently require a response. Within this article, when discussing the term “crisis” we will also utilize (interchangeably) the term “disaster,” as seen, for instance, in the 2010 “EU Internal Security Strategy in Action: Five steps towards a more secure Europe” (European Commission, 2010). A disaster is a “social phenomena”; a storm for instance, is not a disaster, it is the social effects of the storm on the social system that causes it to be classified and understood as a disaster. An event might be classified as a disaster according to the number of systems damaged, citizens injured or displaced.
As stated by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU, 2005), communication is a critical component of preparing for, responding to, and recovering from crises. The tools available to those involved in responding to, as well as those caught up in a crisis, are no longer limited to the use of conventional telecommunications technologies, such as the telephone or radio, but have expanded to a host of new media applications. New media applications are able to perform a range of functionalities, including: enabling one-way communication, facilitating two-way communication, enabling people to request/offer assistance, relay information, assist with campaigning activities, and, crucially, to enable individuals/groups to organize (Watson et al., 2013).
At the same time, the increased use of ICT and social media creates new challenges pertaining to both 1) misutilization of ICT technologies; and 2) misinformation/disinformation. Both of these categories may intentionally or unintentionally impede emergency response and/or put individuals and communities in danger. Accordingly, the following section will focus on these two types of misuse of ICTs and their potential impact on crisis response. Subsequently, by drawing on four case studies, we will examine the ways in which misuse of ICTs can be managed by authorities and the public.