17-001: A Shake That Never Happened #PIO #Safety #SocialMedia

17-001: A Shake That Never Happened
Agency: US Geological Survey (USGS) Topic(s):      Error message / human error
Date: 06-23-17 Platform:      Twitter/Email

Sometimes, US Geological Survey (USGS) computers have 6.8 sized hiccups which automatically pushed out info this past Wednesday. This caused serious concern as numerous Emergency Management professionals and PIOs desperately searched to verify information on any earthquake in California. None was to be found on Wednesday June 21, 2017.

As you can see, the date listed in the email notification isn’t consistent with Wednesday’s date as well as the time stamp of publication.

Even worse was the 140-character tweet with even less text/info that initially went out to their 679K followers (@USGS). With the magnitude and epicenter location in a well populated area (Santa Barbara CA), it is crucial that we have multiple sources to verify critical information.

As humans, our attention span has shortened. (SQUIRREL!) Likely thousands misread the initial date/time listed on the email. Even less took the time to click the link in the tweet.

USGS noticed the error and posted this explanation of the errand info. Emails were sent to explain the deleted event.

Obviously more than 140 characters, they screen shot a typed response and posted the image to twitter referencing their errant tweet. The USGS used this tactic to get more information and characters into an otherwise short 140-character tweet.

Whether computer or human error, fessing up to an error on social media is embarrassing. However, the ramifications of arbitrarily deleting info without prior public notification will gander your agency a rash of criticism from the most loyal of followers. Government agencies should strive to foster trust and transparency with all of their constituency. Not to mention, deletion of your posts must match your agency’s policy/procedure or SOP/SOG.

Three important tips to consider if an agency posts something weird:

  1. Trust, but verify information. Trust your social media intuition.
  2. Correlate data from various sources to make an informed decision for ongoing operations.
  3. Admit your mistakes. It happens. Human error is a thing.

Mistakes happen, but how you recover will either make you a hero or a zero. Maximize your efforts on social media including screenshots of your more-than-140-character-response.

Time is short, so tweet / email correct stuff!

@rusnivek

****Or download the one-pager here: AShakeThatNeverHappened-Safety-PIO-SM-17-001***

Maybe watch a quick video from USA Today

One thought on “17-001: A Shake That Never Happened #PIO #Safety #SocialMedia

  1. The crazy thing is that USGS quickly fixed the error but not before the LA Times published an article online at 4:35 pm with the headline, “Earthquake: 6.8 quake strikes near Isla Vista, Calif.” They corrected it a full 20 minutes later, saying it was an error.

    Real journalism is dying. Multiple sources is right.

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