Rumor response, debunking response, and decision makings of misinformed Twitter users during disasters | SpringerLink

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Natural Hazards

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Rumor response, debunking response, and decision makings of misinformed Twitter users during disasters

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Bairong WangJun ZhuangEmail author

Bairong Wang1

Jun Zhuang1Email author
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Department of Industrial and Systems EngineeringUniversity at BuffaloBuffaloUSA

Original Paper

First Online: 11 May 2018

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The rapid spread of rumors occurring on social media is a critical problem that poses a great risk to emergency situation navigation, especially during disasters. Many research questions, such as how misinformed users judge potential rumors or how they respond to them, are crucial issues for crisis communication, but have not been extensively studied. This paper fills this gap by originally documenting and studying Twitter users’ rumor and debunking response behaviors during disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013. To this end, two rumors from each disaster and their related tweets are documented for analysis. Users who were misinformed and involved in the rumor topic by posting tweet(s), could respond to a rumor by: (1) spreading (85.86–91.40%), (2) confirmation-seeking (5.39–9.37%), or (3) doubting (0.71–8.75%). However, if the rumor-spreading users were debunked, they would respond by: (1) deleting rumor tweet(s) (2.94–10.00%), (2) clarifying rumor information with a new tweet (0–19.75%), or (3) neither deleting nor clarifying (78.13–97.06%). We conclude that Twitter users perform poorly in rumor detection and rush to spread rumors. The majority of users who spread rumors do not take further action on their Twitter accounts to fix their rumor-spreading behaviors.


Crisis information Twitter Rumor response Debunking response Decision analysis

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This research was partially supported by the United States National Science Foundation (NSF) under award numbers 1730503, 1760586, 1762807. This research was also partially supported by China Scholarship Council (CSC) to support Bairong Wang. However, any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect views of the NSF, or CSC. We also thank two referees for providing constructive comments.


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