A Study on the Phenomena of Rumor Propagation in Social Networks—The Effects of Trust and Distrust

Project Details


The revolutionary impact of the Internet in the dissemination of information, cannot be more dramatically demonstrated than the 2016 US presidential election. One of the most controversial issues on the Internet is the phenomenal spread of unconfirmed messages, much of them are fake news and rumors. The rapid spread of these rumors undoubtedly affected the outcome of the election. One of the important ways that these rumors spread fast is that the news is like a viral "redistribution." That is, a web user receives a message and, in the unconfirmed case, secondarily transmits it to his social group. In a commercial setting, the phenomena are the sane as spreading of messages affecting word-of-mouth and negative word-of-mouth.This study attempts to explore the redistribution of rumors. A major focus is on the role of trust and distrust in the information source in this phenomena. Will people believe in the content of information because of their trust and distrust in the message source, then proceed without further verification? Will the involvement of the information receiver on the target issue play a role? For those with low involvement, will they rely solely on its trust or distrust in the message sources, and give different evaluation on the message received? Will trust and distrust in sources affect the filtering of information?The study proposes a three-year three-phase study with different questionnaires designs based on intention of re-transmission, evaluation of information and filtering activities as the main dependent variables. The main foundations are classical communication and persuasion models, concepts of trust and distrust, and the elaboration likelihood model.
Effective start/end date1/08/1831/07/19

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions
  • SDG 17 - Partnerships for the Goals


  • message re-transmission
  • evaluation of message value
  • trust
  • distrust
  • involvement
  • elaboration likelihood model
  • word-of-mouth


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