During emergencies, federal, state, and local agencies and our private sector partners share timely, relevant, and reliable updates with you through social media. This National Preparedness Month, learn how this rapid dissemination of trustworthy information is made possible: through extensive coordination and by conducting exercises designed to prepare for a range of energy-related crises. 

What’s the difference?
Misinformation is false or inaccurate information—getting the facts wrong.
Disinformation is false information which is deliberately intended to mislead—intentionally misstating the facts.

About nine in ten Americans use social media and around half of U.S. adults report receiving their news through social media. But be alert: mis- and disinformation can easily spread on social media. It’s important to filter through the noise and find trusted sources of information when time is of the essence during an emergency. The Department of Energy (DOE) and our partners test our social media communication practices regularly so that when an emergency occurs, you know you can trust the information we share broadly. 

Putting Our Practices to the Test 

Since 2013, DOE’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) has hosted an annual all-hazards energy security and resilience exercise series called Clear Path. Clear Path brings together energy sector stakeholders to enhance policies and procedures, identify areas for collective improvement, and strengthen relationships and cooperation between industry and government energy sector partners during an energy emergency. 

Part of the Clear Path XI exercise series includes a social media drill, which was held on August 1, 2023. The drill tested participants’ abilities to develop and distribute accurate and timely public information messaging through social media platforms, as part of a simulated response to a multi-hazard incident scenario involving cyber-attacks and the impending threat of a major hurricane in the Pacific Ocean. Communicators from CESER participated to help coordinate messages about energy security, safety, and emergency preparedness.

What is a deepfake?
An image or video that is altered and manipulated to misrepresent someone as doing or saying something that was not actually done or said

The experience-based exercise goes further than simply discussing social media best practices by putting them to the test in a safe, immersive simulation environment. The Clear Path planners built a real-world experience complete with simulated social media platforms, multiple news broadcasts, a deepfake disinformation attempt, and hours of “citizen” comments and questions. Participants performed social listening, which means monitoring online conversations to understand what concerns and questions people have, and amplified or developed messages that would address them. 

Coordination is Key 

CESER alone can’t answer every question, but by coordinating and collaborating with our government and industry partners, we can help get you the information you need. During the drill, CESER worked closely with several entities, including: 

  • Federal agencies like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to amplify emergency response and law enforcement messages
  • Industry and trade associations to share updates about energy supply and restoration efforts 
  • State government officials to highlight updates from responders on-the-ground and ensure messages are delivered in the languages of the people impacted by the emergency 

After the exercise, participants noted areas of strength and improvement so that when a real emergency occurs, we can be better prepared to provide you the best information as soon as possible. CESER’s experts are in close contact with our government and industry partners to keep each other informed about energy emergencies across the country. We consistently test our ability to respond to any hazard with clear, accurate, trustworthy messaging on social media. Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter to get the latest updates!  

Tips to Avoid Misinformation and Disinformation on Social Media 

  • If you don’t recognize the source of the information, research the organization, publication, or person. Before resharing, look for a second source of the information before resharing. 
  • Make sure the date of the content or photo is current. Information can be pulled out of context to serve bad intents. 
  • If you spot mis/disinformation, don’t share, comment on, or react to the content. This spreads the original post through social media algorithms so that more people see the bad information.