Oroville Dam emergency turns in to social media political propaganda opportunity

Just hours after a mass evacuation order was given, the emergency in Northern California turned social media into its usual outrage culture filled with political propaganda. This event has provided a real time illustration of the way that social media is collapsing in on itself.

The first and third comments in this screen capture illustrate both sides:Water scientist Peter Gleick says he cannot tell which is worse: “gloating comments” on social media might be worse than evacuating 190,000 people under threat of flooding and loss of lifeĀ  – and he cannot tell which is worse? (His comments reinforce his documented reputation for unethical behavior.)
The environmental spin:

At this point, we don’t know the cause of the Oroville Dam problems – design, construction, maintenance, operational management errors, policy maker decisions, weather, uncertainty, history of floods in the area and so on – but on social media, we know the cause with precision …. or perhaps someone doesn’t want to let a crisis go to waste when it presents an opportunity for propaganda messaging. (There were numerous tweets similar to the above.)

The above were posted within 1-3 hours of the evacuation order.

The next day, but less than 24 hours since the evacuation order was given, Twitter’s #OrovilleDam tag has turned into mostly political propaganda. Literally, nearly half of the tweets were politicizing the disaster:

Some begin to note that turning a real time disaster in to politicking looks awkward:

These two appeared adjacent to one another on Twitter:

And so on. Never let a disaster of unknown cause go to waste when there is social media propaganda to spread!

(Note – I waited until after the crisis was largely resolved before publishing this post. The evacuation order was lifted yesterday afternoon.)

One thought on “Oroville Dam emergency turns in to social media political propaganda opportunity

  1. Pingback: Disaster Propaganda | Occupy Propaganda

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