Following Japan disaster, false claims circulating by e-mail - Report

Following Japan disaster, false claims circulating by e-mail - Report

March 13, 2011   05:23 pm

In the wake of the devastating earthquake in northeastern Japan, chain e-mails and misinformation are circulating on the Internet.

E-mails warn that a massive fire at an oil refinery in Chiba triggered by the quake could contaminate rainfall with toxic substances. They advise people to use umbrellas and raincoats for protection, NHK World reported today (March 13).

The oil company that operates the refinery says that what the message suggests is not true. It notes that the liquefied petroleum gas from tanks which has burned off hardly affects the human body.

The chain e-mails apparently aim to gain attention by propagating sensationalist misinformation.

On Twitter, groundless warnings, including one reading that “another quake will hit western Japan”, have been posted. In some malicious messages, people pretending to be quake victims called for help.

The government warns such misinformation could spread fast on the Internet, hampering rescue and evacuation efforts of those actually affected by the quake.

It advises people to reference any claims found in e-mails with information provided by local authorities and relevant companies.
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