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Tales on the Internet: making it up as you go along

Chris Frost (School of Journalism, University of Central Lancashire, Preston PR1 2HE)

Aslib Proceedings

ISSN: 0001-253X

Article publication date: 1 February 2000



The Internet‘s email system is a fast and efficient communication method and one that has become particularly popular for rumours and hoaxes. These include virus alerts, one of the favourite types of hoax, and urban myths or contemporary legends. An interesting element of these types of rumours and hoaxes is: the apparent reduction in caution about their retransmission; the speed and ease of re‐transmission that email offers; the extensive detail that is often included at variance to standard word of mouth transmission of rumour. This paper examines a single case study in order to investigate the differences between e‐rumours and word of mouth rumours. Theory suggests that detail adds verisimilitude to a rumour and this could certainly explain why such emails often provide extensive detail. The email system eases the job of re‐transmitting and this might explain why readers are prepared to broadcast such rumours without further checking.



Frost, C. (2000), "Tales on the Internet: making it up as you go along", Aslib Proceedings, Vol. 52 No. 1, pp. 5-10.




Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

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