Impact of official accounts on rumor correction

Monday, April 4, 2016

Kate Starbird
Kate Starbird

The latest research from Human Centered Design & Engineering's Emerging Capacities of Mass Participation (emCOMP) Lab and the Information School’s DataLab looks at how "official" sources of information impact both the spread and correction of rumors online.

By examining large sets of data from two rumors spread on Twitter, the research team, including Human Centered Design & Engineering Associate Professor Kate Starbird and undergraduate student Yuwei Ding, found that "official" Twitter accounts—such as news media and emergency management organizations—can effectively slow the spread of online rumors and correct misinformation. They also found that the majority of rumors were tweets and retweets from a small number of Twitter accounts, demonstrating that a single account can significantly influence the direction of information. In addition to offering empirical insights for social media researchers, this study has practical implications for people who manage online communication during crisis events—including initiating social media protocols and keeping pace with the rapid speed of social media today. 

Co-authors on the study are Elodie Fichet, PhD candidate in UW Department of Communication; Cynthia A. Andrews, master's alumna of the UW Department of Communication; and Emma Spiro, Assistant Professor in the UW Information School. The research was presented at the Association for Computing Machinery’s Conference for Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing in March 2016. 

Read the full story, "The Twittersphere does listen to the voice of reason — sometimes," on UW Today »

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