Mark Twain famously said that “a lie can get halfway around the world while the truth is putting its boots on”. The spread of false information can be a huge problem for government, but social media engagement can help.

This was seen recently in Singapore, where rumours spread that the government was cloud seeding to protect its hosting of the Formula 1.

Singapore Government strenuously denied the claims, including through the traditional local media, but that didn’t stop the story getting traction. So Environment Minister Vivian Balakrishnan took to social media to spread the word.

Posting on Facebook, he showed a photograph of a message warning people to stay inside due to imminent cloud seeding operations.

Underneath, he repeated the government’s denial of this.

That helped, but more interesting was his engagement in the comments sections. Here, you can see the Minister actively persuading someone, who changes his mind about cloud seeding.

balakrishnan

Social media has useful analytics to demonstrate the impact of the campaign. The Facebook post received 2,833 likes and 2,717 shares – likely reaching thousands more readers.

The post was free; took minutes; and made a measureable impact. Surely this is the future of public engagement.