Content Marketing Blog

Research is in the works to spot false rumours on Twitter

Have you ever read some breaking news on social media, only to find out it was a hoax later on? Of course you have. We all have.

Social networking sites are great for sharing breaking news stories, but unfortunately lies quickly spread across social media like wildfire.

Just look at Chinese action star Jackie Chan, who has been rumoured to be dead several times now. On one instance, Chan wrote a post on his Facebook page just to confirm he was alive.

Twitter is one of the best places to spread information quickly to a large audience, hence why many brands use the site for content marketing. But a new project in the works called Pheme is designed to identify rumours on Twitter during crisis periods.

Pheme is the project of several universities, and has partnerships with specialists in fields such as natural language and text mining. The team will analyse Big Data on Twitter and determine the quality of information. They will also look at sources that are considered trustworthy and at cases in the past.

The project stems from false rumours that appeared on Twitter during the 2011 London riots, which falsely claimed animals from the Zoo had escaped and that the London eye, a giant ferris wheel in the centre of the city, had been set ablaze.

Lead Researcher at Sheffield University Kalina Bontcheva explained since rumours spread so quickly on social media, it’s difficult to separate fact from fiction on a real-time basis.

These rumours can create panic during crisis periods, explained Bontcheva, especially for emergency services who need everyone to remain calm.

“Our system aims to help with that, by tracking and verifying information in real time.” Bontcheva went on to explain.

Although Pheme is still in early stages of development, it will undoubtedly be a valuable tool to establish Twitter as a more reliable news source. This is also a good reminder for companies using Twitter for social media marketing, not to believe everything they see on the site.

Posted by Dylan Brown