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Does KFC sell rat? Analysis of tweets in the wake of a rumor outbreak

Anjan Pal (Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore)
Alton Y.K. Chua (Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore)
Dion Hoe-Lian Goh (Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore)

Aslib Journal of Information Management

ISSN: 2050-3806

Article publication date: 20 November 2017

1603

Abstract

Purpose

In the wake of a rumor outbreak, individuals exchange three types of messages: rumor messages, counter-rumor messages, and uncertainty-expressing messages. However, the properties of the three types of messages are relatively unknown particularly in the social media context. Hence, the purpose of this paper is to examine these three types of messages posted on social media in the wake of a rumor outbreak.

Design/methodology/approach

Data included tweets posted after the outbreak of a rumor that wrongly accused the fast food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) for selling rats instead of chicken. Using a deductive approach, codes were derived via content analysis on the tweets. Volume and exposure of tweets were also examined.

Findings

Counter-rumor tweets (52 percent) outnumbered rumors tweets (32 percent) and uncertainty-expressing tweets (16 percent). Emotions and personal involvement were abundant in rumor tweets. Expressions of credence and references to URLs were high in counter-rumor tweets. Social ties were found widely in uncertainty-expressing tweets. The high volume and exposure of counter-rumor tweets compared with those of either rumor tweets or uncertainty-expressing tweets highlight the potential of counter-rumors to mitigate rumors.

Originality/value

This research ventures into a relatively unexplored territory by concurrently examining rumor messages, counter-rumor messages and uncertainty-expressing messages in the wake of a rumor outbreak. It reveals that counter-rumor messages have the potential to mitigate rumors on social media.

Keywords

Citation

Pal, A., Chua, A.Y.K. and Goh, D.H.-L. (2017), "Does KFC sell rat? Analysis of tweets in the wake of a rumor outbreak", Aslib Journal of Information Management, Vol. 69 No. 6, pp. 660-673. https://doi.org/10.1108/AJIM-01-2017-0026

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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