Political Rumors On Twitter During The 2012 Presidential Election

(Image via Mashable)

The team: Lian Jian, Jieun Shin, Francois Bar, Kevin Driscoll

Project Description: 

Political rumors can have harmful consequences on democracy and the society in general. As unverified information, rumors could be used to manipulate public opinion (Allport & Postman, 1945), incite aggression (Knapp, 1944) and hatred (Knopf, 1975). The rampant spread of rumors during times of public anxiety (Fine & Turner, 2001) and election seasons (Hargrove & Stempel, 2008) underscores the importance of understanding how rumors spread among people and their impacts on people’s political lives.

This project attempts to study political rumor diffusion on social media by analyzing a large data set of (419 million) tweets collected during the 15-month period leading up to the 2012 presidential election in the United States. The research team has identified 66 rumors that were circulating in the media or on the Internet during the same period of time. Using keyword-matches, a preliminary set of 438,556 tweets were identified to be potentially relevant to these 66 rumors.