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Micro-blogs: Seeking truth or spreading rumors?

08-29-2011 09:14 BJT

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While more web users are relying on micro-blogs to learn about what's happening around the world, they are, at the same time, troubled by false information and unverified reports.

These pictures on micro-blogs are stunning, in telling how Beijing was plagued by torrential rain in June, but with only one problem - they're simply not true.

Cao Fan, founder of Rumor Scotch Association, said, “Some of these pictures turn out to have been taken several years ago. They created a false impression of how bad the rain really was.”

Also in June, Beijing's municipal government issued a food alert in response to E-coli that had swept across Europe. But when it appeared on micro-blogs, the news was much more horrifying, saying "the bacteria have invaded Beijing".

In the wake of these incidents, some web users have formed an alliance to report false information. Cao Fan, founder of Rumor Scotch Association, said, "We've gained some support on Sina Weibo, but not very strong. For example, up to 50-thousand postings were forwarded on the E-coli case, but our posting verifies that the information only stands at four thousand."

Dr. Dai Yuanchu, an expert on studying communication says to quash rumors would require more publicity from the authorities. Dr. Dai Yuanchu said, "Wide-spread rumors can sometimes tell that something is going wrong. When no one tells the public what has happened, people will start to speculate, especially when the issue could potentially affect every one of them."

But even when the message is describing what's really going on, the information can create panic as well. The "salt purchase" issue in March, following Japan's deadly earthquake and nuclear crisis, epitomizes the power of micro-blogging.

Dr. Dai Yuanchu said, "The green line here represents the number of postings through micro-blogging. It makes up nearly one third of the total number shown on the purple line here. And we found that when there were many postings about the case, the purchase of salt also reached a peak."

Through micro-blogging, everyone can be a news source. While the platform has gathered unprecedented force to pursue truth, its unverified information could also be a huge trouble maker.


Editor:Zhang Dan |Source: CNTV.CN

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