Dubai Municipality, through its initiative to quash rumours ‘Al Khabar Al Yaqeen’, has responded to more than 35 rumours that went around social networking sites, causing confusion among the members of the community since the start of the initiative launched in June 2015.
Khalid Ali bin Zayed, Assistant Director-General of Dubai Municipality for the Communication and Community Sector, said the initiative achieved the expected results to halt the spread of rumours and false information on social networking sites.
“This service has contributed to the dissemination of information received by the municipality via several channels, particularly the WhatsApp, through the call centre.”
Khalid Ali bin Zayed, Assistant Director-General of Dubai Municipality
The call centre staff receives information or rumours and accordingly notifies the competent authority in the municipality to take necessary measures by contacting the concerned parties or external entities that the municipality has cooperative agreements with in order to verify the information. After verification, the call centre responds to questions of enquirers about the rumour, in addition to circulating the information over the media in a credible and transparent manner.
Bin Zayed said that the initiative was introduced as a result of the municipality's interest in shouldering its social responsibilities for the protection and safety of the general public and the community as well as the preservation of the economic and trade aspect which considers Dubai a safe haven.
The department has succeeded over to respond to all rumours, including rumours of cheese slice burning, Vimto, chocolate, LED shoes, Lively perfume, wax coating, Johnson & Johnson powder, green tea worm, Pepsi, Barley drink, Tang, spread cheese, apple seeds, Red Bull, Qassim coffee, Tang, Kinder chocolate, Burger King, mixing of detergents, instant yeast, Basa fish, Indomie and ketchup.
Through this initiative, the department sought to develop and set up a work mechanism under the name of ‘Al-Khabar Al-Yaqeen Methodology’, he said.
Report to the call centre
The call centre 800900 responds to all enquiries and comments, answers the questions of the public and also corrects false news or the news that needs to be clarified. It is also possible to receive enquiries through the media, social networking channels, or appearing in person to provide information.
The rumour is referred to the Communication Section, where it will be received, then the concerned, organizational unit is required to respond to it. After that, the official response is received and revised.
The response is also accredited and coordinated, then sent back within eight hours at most. The correct and accurate information is explained to the caller to be fully aware of what he heard, learned or received via smartphones. Grounds for complaint are taken away after clarifying the picture to the caller.
Al-Khabar Al-Yaqeen is published on the department’s website, the Knowledge Portal, the social networking channels and the media. The person who informed about the rumour will also receive a response.
Bin Zayed said that the department succeeded in adding a new service through spreading the approach of direct response to the enquiries and calls of the public in the municipal field alongside its other basic services – hygiene, food control and public safety – in order to facilitate positive and effective communication with the general public.
Consequently, the call centre is the point of contact between the public and Dubai Municipality responding to any suspicious information they have in mind. The department has contributed effectively and successfully to the establishment of full control over any deficiencies that may occur in the midst of the rush and the engagement of all sides with the establishment of a ‘Happy Dubai community’.
Rumours are statements, stories or reports made up by some people for certain purposes. People usually circulate them with the best intentions without verifying or validating them. That is the reason for the gravity of the situation, because the exchange of information via such media is instant. Thus, it is required to address the information within few hours and respond to them, so that they would not become a rumour and be very effective, he said.
An international scientific study revealed that rumours increased after the use of social networking sites – WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube channels. They also spread dangerously because of the increasing use of social networking sites. A study showed that the internet altered the nature of rumours, the method of their dissemination and their pace, since they used to be spread orally, where currently they spread visually and through reading. A lot of rumours were steered and had explicit or implicit targets, and their implications were negative in most cases for individuals, institutions or the community as a whole.