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How to spread rumors online

Tips from an official report

06·25·2015

How to spread rumors online

Tips from an official report

06·25·2015

Spreading malicious lies about certain celebrities, organizations, or friends can be hard. The Internet is full of such posts and making yours stand out can be a challenge. Fortunately the kind people at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) have released a report that may help, and they cunningly named it the Annual Report on Development of New Media (2014).

CASS found that of the total number of false news reports and rumors online, 59 percent of them had their origins grounded in Weibo, 32 percent from the umbrella of Internet media, and seven percent from Wechat.

To say that the findings are mind blowing would be leave us with noses shorter than Pinocchio. Legions of trollers out there work too hard, day and night, for credit not to be given to them. Weibo, being one of the most popular social platforms in China, is simply the perfect place to plant seeds of gossip. Just sprinkled droplets of mentions and soon you will find it blossoming into a fully form tree of deception, with the roots firmly buried underneath the mounds of shares.

However, the report also identified that the rumors with the most lasting power were those from Wechat, due to the closed-nature of its system. Friends share hearsay within a select circle of comrades, most of who generally share the same interests and opinions as themselves, and are more reluctant to spot flaws. Compared this to Weibo, where there are people chomping at the bit to tear down any piece of information—rightly or wrongly—posted.

Timing also plays a role in the contamination of distorted knowledge. CASS found that Monday to Wednesday were optimal days for fabrication infection, with Tuesday being the peak. Maybe the vast majority are bored at work and so need to occupy themselves with some recreational gossiping, but as the weekend approaches, relief takes over.

The comprehensive analysis also provides readers with a list of the most used rumors. In descending order, the top seven were:

  1. Food security
  2. Personal security
  3. Disease-related issues
  4. Health and fitness tips
  5. Anti-fraud tips
  6. Money
  7. Child-parent relationships

Using the information provided, there seems to be two routes that one can take in order to fabricate a believable, long lasting lie.

On the one hand, gossips can avoid all the popular areas by selecting an unpopular topic and posting it on Wechat during the weekend, thereby attacking unsuspecting readers where they least expect it.

Conversely, utilizing a common topic and posting it during peak times on Weibo may allow it enough anonymity to fully infiltrate social platforms.

The choice is yours.

 

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