BALI: The administration of the Indonesian island of Bali has accused competitor regions and countries of disseminating hoaxes about the danger of volcanic activity on Mount Agung in order to benefit from the island’s recent troubles.

In September, around 140,000 residents of the volcano’s environs were evacuated following Indonesian authorities' announcement of the highest possible alert warning. Later, authorities corrected their warning and said many of those people did not have to leave.

When the volcano did eventually erupt in late November, volcanic ash spread onto nearby areas, closing two international airports for several days.

I Putu Astawa, head of the Bali Development Planning Agency, said that in spite of what he called declining volcanic activity, other countries were spreading false information that claimed Bali is a dangerous place to visit, the Jakarta Post reported.

Mr Putu asked the national government to counter these accusations by spreading ‘real information’ about the island worldwide. “We have to jointly counter false information to explain the real conditions in Bali,” he said. “In fact, volcanic activity is declining,” he added.

Last week, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency narrowed the danger area surrounding the volcano to just six kilometres.

Bali’s plight offers up a new inflection of the ‘fake news’ phenomenon, of which President Trump is arguably both the loudest proponent and accuser, which effectively removes any recourse to objective fact, leaving audiences to rely on emotions and heuristics to judge which side they will choose to believe.

Some well known brands have fallen victim to false information. Starbucks, for instance, found that some 4Chan hoaxers were circulating a “Dreamer Day” in which the company would allegedly give undocumented migrants free frappuccinos.

Sourced from The Guardian, Kompas, Jakarta Post, Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff