Publication

Rumor Cascades

AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media (ICWSM)


Abstract

Online social networks provide a rich substrate for rumor propagation. Information received via friends tends to be trusted, and online social networks allow individuals to transmit information to many friends at once. By referencing known rumors from Snopes.com, a popular website documenting memes and urban legends, we track the propagation of thousands of rumors appearing on Facebook. From this sample we infer the rates at which rumors from different categories and of varying truth value are uploaded and reshared. We find that rumor cascades run deeper in the social network than reshare cascades in general. We then examine the effect of individual reshares receiving a comment containing a link to a Snopes article on the evolution of the cascade. We find that receiving such a comment increases the likelihood that a reshare of a rumor will be deleted. Furthermore, large cascades are able to accumulate hundreds of Snopes comments while continuing to propagate. Finally, using a dataset of rumors copied and pasted from one status update to another, we show that rumors change over time and that different variants tend to dominate different bursts in popularity.

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