Expressed Uncertainty and Denials as Signals of Online Rumoring


Social media platforms are important venues for communication during crisis events; both the public and emergency responders use online platforms to discover and curate event-related information. While many recognize the value of social media as an information source during crisis settings, there is also concern about misinformation (Sutton et al. 2008, Hughes and Palen 2012). To ground our exploration of misinformation within online spaces, we leverage theories of rumoring behavior—atopic of longstanding interest in the social sciences (Caplow 1947, Allport and Postman 1947, Spiro et al. 2012). Prior studies of rumoring, both during disasters and under more general circumstances, frame the ‘collective sensemaking’ process that often occurs as a response to uncertainty within the information space. Such rumoring behavior often occurs during periods of collective stress, such as disasters, and in cases where official sources of news are unavailable (or insufficiently timely)(Shibutani 1966). We hope that understanding the collective sensemaking process will inform automated methods of detecting rumors on social media platforms during crisis events.

Proceedings of the Collective Intelligence Conference