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How do rumors spread during a crisis? Analysis of rumor expansion and disaffirmation on Twitter after 3.11 in Japan

Mai Miyabe (Center for the Promotion of Interdisciplinary Education and Research, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan)
Akiyo Nadamoto (Faculty of Intelligence and Informatics, Konan University, Kobe, Japan)
Eiji Aramaki (Center for the Promotion of Interdisciplinary Education and Research, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan)

International Journal of Web Information Systems

ISSN: 1744-0084

Article publication date: 11 November 2014

Abstract

Purpose

This aim of this paper is to elucidate rumor propagation on microblogs and to assess a system for collecting rumor information to prevent rumor-spreading.

Design/methodology/approach

We present a case study of how rumors spread on Twitter during a recent disaster situation, the Great East Japan earthquake of March 11, 2011, based on comparison to a normal situation. We specifically examine rumor disaffirmation because automatic rumor extraction is difficult. Extracting rumor-disaffirmation is easier than extracting the rumors themselves. We classify tweets in disaster situations, analyze tweets in disaster situations based on users' impressions and compare the spread of rumor tweets in a disaster situation to that in a normal situation.

Findings

The analysis results showed the following characteristics of rumors in a disaster situation. The information transmission is 74.9 per cent, representing the greatest number of tweets in our data set. Rumor tweets give users strong behavioral facilitation, make them feel negative and foment disorder. Rumors of a normal situation spread through many hierarchies but the rumors of disaster situations are two or three hierarchies, which means that the rumor spreading style differs in disaster situations and in normal situations.

Originality/value

The originality of this paper is to target rumors on Twitter and to analyze rumor characteristics by multiple aspects using not only rumor-tweets but also disaffirmation-tweets as an investigation object.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This work was partially supported by Research Institute of Konan University, JST PRESTO, and JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number 24500134, 26330347.

Citation

Miyabe, M., Nadamoto, A. and Aramaki, E. (2014), "How do rumors spread during a crisis? Analysis of rumor expansion and disaffirmation on Twitter after 3.11 in Japan", International Journal of Web Information Systems, Vol. 10 No. 4, pp. 394-412. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJWIS-04-2014-0015

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited