Rumor and Its Impact on Society

Rumor is a type of message that is circulated and believed to be true but is not verified. It is often untrue and can be damaging to a person’s reputation. There are several reasons people spread rumors, including peer pressure and anxiety. A rumor can be a false report about an event, or it can be a story that is passed from one person to another without any evidence of its truth.

The term “rumor” was first coined in 1902 by the German social scientist Stern. He conducted an experiment involving a chain of subjects who passed a story from mouth to mouth without repeating or explaining it. He found that the story shortened and changed as it moved from person to person. This is called the “rumor process.” The same phenomenon has been documented in a number of different experiments, including those conducted by Gordon Allport and others.

A rumor is a false or potentially misleading story that is spread from one person to another through word of mouth or over the Internet. It is often difficult to distinguish a rumor from the truth and it is important for people to know how to identify false information.

Some rumors are spread because of personal differences and disagreements between people. Other rumors are created as an attempt to relieve anxiety or tension in the workplace, among friends, or in family relationships. The most common rumors include gossip, slander, and innuendo. A rumor can also be a deliberate lie, which is typically considered a defamation.

To analyze how rumors are shared online, researchers analyzed archived discussions concerning a particular rumor on the Internet and computer networks such as BITnet. Each discussion was coded according to a set of statements that reflected various functions associated with rumor discussion: prudent, apprehensive, authenticating, interrogatory, providing information, belief, disbelief, sense-making, and digressive.

The research found that users tend to support unverified rumors, even when they are false. This is possibly due to the arousal they produce and their potential societal impact. However, users do not seem to make an effort to spread rumour debunks to let others know that a rumour is not true.

Evidentiality, a measure of the reliability of a rumour, can be quantified as a ratio between a rumour’s initial veracity status and its eventual verification status (e.g., a rumour that started as an unverified rumour will have an evidentiality of 1). This value can be further classified by the presence or absence of various forms of evidence, such as (1) evidence from a source with which a person is familiar, (2) the attachment of a picture, (3) the quotation of an accessible source, (4) the employment of reasoning, and (5) no evidence at all.

The researchers also examined how a rumour’s veracity was resolved on Twitter, using the Twitter API to obtain data on retweets for different categories of rumours and their associated tweets. They found that rumours that are based on a credible source are retweeted more frequently than those that are unsubstantiated.