Communication in a disruption and reliable information

Communication in a disruption

The information society relies on electricity, ICT technology and information networks. A power outage will rapidly impact everyday life. It is important to get reliable information during a disruption — however, many media platforms require electricity to operate. Telephone networks are designed to operate on battery power for a couple of hours, at most, during power outages.

For communication, you need:

  • a battery-powered radio and spare batteries
  • a phone with charge
  • a fully charged backup power source to charge your phone

Where can you get information?

  • As long as the telecommunication networks operate and batteries have power, it is possible to seek information from online sources.
  • If phone and data communication stop working, authorities will provide instructions through public radio.
  • Reliable sources of information include, among others, the channels of the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) and the communication channels of municipalities, electric companies and water companies.
  • Download the 112 Suomi mobile application to your phone. All public warnings and notifications are transmitted to the application. Remember to allow the app to use your location to receive notifications.
Mobile phone with 112 Suomi application on it

In an emergency or crisis, access to accurate information is particularly important

The best way to shield against false information is source criticism:

  • Is the information fact or opinion?
  • Who is the information coming from? Who is the original author?
  • Is the original author a credible expert on the subject?
  • For what purpose was the information published? Was it published in a way that is intended to evoke strong emotions or otherwise aimed at creating a strong reaction or motivating people to share it?
  • Can the information be verified from another source?
  • Is the information new or outdated, and why is it being spread right now?

 What can you do?

  • Search for information – the best way to find accurate information is to compare sources.
  • Don’t believe rumours – use many credible sources to check if the information is true.
  • Don’t spread rumours – if the information does not seem credible, don’t pass it on. Be especially critical of news published on obscure websites and claims based on second-hand information.

How can you be sure photos and videos are authentic?

  • Where does the source claim the photo/video is from?
  • Could the person who took the photo/video actually have been there?
  • Does the photo/video show possible signs of tampering, such as visual elements that stand out from the rest or something that does not fit with what is claimed to have happened?
  • Check if the photo or a screenshot from the video has been published previously using tools such as Google’s reverse image search function or TinEye image search.
A man reading something from his mobile phone.

Information operations

Information operations refer to goal-oriented and systematic activities that aim to disrupt the functional capacity of society by influencing public opinion, human behaviour, and decision-makers.

Information operations can be used, for example, to distract attention and distort the facts, discourage, concern or enrage people, or worsen relations between groups and trust in the authorities. However, not all false information is a form of information operations.

There are different levels of information operations:

  • Disinformation and fake content (such as fake photos on social media) Disinformation can be created and shared by anyone and can be found in huge quantities on social media, for example. Everyone can also fight disinformation by not sharing questionable content and reporting it to moderators and admins, for example.
  • Goal-oriented, manipulative information-based influencing (e.g. targeted misleading content, coercive or threatening communication, smear campaigns) Planned activities that involve the use of several different methods with the aim to influence people’s behaviour. In countermeasures to goal-oriented information influencing, the main responsibility lies with the authorities and other parties who monitor and evaluate the information environment. In addition, actors such as the media play a role in reporting facts about information operations.
  • Interference by a foreign state (including interference in elections, airspace violations, etc.) Activities that use goal-oriented, unlawful means. Responsibility for countermeasures lies only with the authorities and national governments in the manner prescribed by law.
 Triangle-shaped figure divided into three parts. At the bottom, the largest, disinformation and false content; in the middle, targeted influence on behavior; and at the top, the smallest, unauthorized harassment.

Shielding against information operations:

  • Choose the sources you use carefully, especially during exceptional circumstances and crises.
  • Anxiety, restlessness, and negative emotions such as anger are normal reactions to information operations.
  • The easiest way to protect yourself is to limit your exposure to social media.
  • Whenever you use social media, you can remind yourself that you are almost certainly being exposed to manipulation and fake content.
  • Learn to recognise rumours and speculation – even in the national media.
  • Don’t give disinformation more visibility or engage with malicious actors but report the harmful content to the moderators or admins.
  • Focus on action: Think about what you can do that is useful and constructive. Check your level of preparedness and help other people prepare.