Redlands Devotes Webpage & Staff Time To Knock Down Pervasive Rumors

The City of Redlands has added a “rumor control” page to its website.
Just below the page’s logo, its mission is enunciated. “The rumor control page is committed to dispelling inaccurate or misleading statements concerning the City of Redlands,” it says.
This week the page stated, “No rumors at this time.”
The ostensible goal of the page appeared to be to quell falsehoods before they metastasize. Some Redlands residents nonetheless saw something a bit Orwellian about a rumor control office, akin to the Ministry of Truth described in the dystopian novel 1984, in which an arm of the government seeks to control public perception, applying that effort within the context of official authority.
The Sentinel contacted the city’s spokesman, Carl Baker, to see if he could speak to what had triggered the need for the addition to the city’s website, and if there had been a recent spate of pernicious falsehoods being spread that had proven problematic for the city.
“The rumor control page was added with the launch of the city’s new website, which went live earlier this month,” Baker said.
As to what had prompted the page’s inclusion on the website, Baker said,  “It was suggested by staff and based on a similar page that the City of Glendale implemented several years ago. The intent is to provide factual information that residents may use to answer common questions or evaluate false or incomplete information published or disseminated widely through social media, comments made at public meetings or other methods.”
Asked if there was concern that the city taking on rumors might come across as a heavy-handed use of governmental reach, Baker said, “It is not intended as a forum to express opinions or to argue in favor of or against issues. As the public information officer, I will be responsible for maintaining the page, but the content may be provided by other staff with subject matter knowledge. City staff will also assist in monitoring the circulation of rumors, questions and misinformation and evaluating whether they are significantly pervasive to warrant a response on the city’s website.”
Mark Gutglueck

Leave a Reply