Rumor Management

Rumor is unsubstantiated information that spreads quickly and influences people’s thinking, feelings and actions. It is often spread by word of mouth, but can also be circulated via telephone, television or the Internet. It may be about a celebrity, politician, place of business or other event. It can be either positive or negative, and is generally based on emotions such as jealousy, anger or disappointment. It can also be a “pipe dream” that reflects public desires or hoped-for outcomes (e.g., a rumor that Japan’s oil reserves were low and World War II would soon end).

While the truth about a rumor may eventually emerge, it can take time for this to happen. The damage done to a person or a group by the rumor is usually not undone when the truth finally emerges, especially if the rumor was passed on from one source to another before being validated. People will continue to react to the rumor even though they know it is false.

People spread rumors in order to gain power or control others, or because they are jealous or angry. They may want to make a celebrity look bad or bring down their status, for example, by spreading a rumor that the celebrity is having problems in his or her personal life. Similarly, people spread rumors about places of business in order to gain a competitive advantage or to get other customers.

The success of a rumor depends on a number of factors, such as how fast it is spread and its ability to be repeated. To spread a rumor quickly, it helps to have many people share it with one another, especially by using the telephone and the Internet. It also helps if the story is centered on an issue of interest to most people, such as a fire at a local shopping mall or a murder trial that will capture the attention of the media.

To keep a rumor from getting out of control, it is important to have a system in place to identify and stop it. This can include having trusted neutral intermediaries who systematically contact all parties involved in the conflict and investigate whether a rumor is true or false. It is also necessary to have a plan for dealing with cases where the investigation cannot determine whether or not the rumor is valid.

The best way to combat a rumor is to find the source and confront them. If they are doing it out of malice, you can try to understand what is going on in their life that makes them feel insecure or angry enough to start the rumor and tell them that there is a better way of achieving their goals. If they aren’t doing it out of malice, you can help them to realize that what they are doing is hurtful and unfair to those around them. You can also let them know that you are supportive of them and that you don’t believe the rumor about them.