Friday, 10 October 2014

How to Stop a Rumor Online (Before the Rumor Becomes a Lie)

Feliks Kogan/Shutterstock
Did you hear the thing about the Florida woman who implanted a third breast in order to be "unattractive to men"? The one who is filming"her daily life in Tampa to show the struggles she faces because of her surgery"?
She didn't, and she is not. The whole thing—for better or for worse—was a hoax.
The Internet moves quickly. Rumors emerge, intentionally and not; they spread, intentionally and not. There's a reason, of course, that "wildfire" is such a common metaphor when it comes to describing this stuff: Rumors, once sparked, don't just spread extremely quickly; they are also extremely difficult to contain. And on top of everything else, it is extremely hard to predict which direction they'll take as they spread.
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Enter The site, launched today after two months of testing and data-gathering, is hoping to change that by tracking rumors that arise in (pretty much) real time. As Craig Silverman, the rumor researcher who created the site, told me: "It's aiming to be a real-time monitoring of claims that are emerging in the press."

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