Wednesday, January 19, 2011
How rumours spread on twitter
Earlier today a rumour that there was a gunman at large in Oxford Street spread around London. This seems to be how it happened.
A fashion assistant for the online store ASOS was trying to recruit bystanders for a photo shoot that was going to happen, and she at tweeted at 11.17am:
Unfortunately some people who saw the tweet misunderstood, and the message started to get garbled, including:
"Shooting in progress in Oxford Circus? What?" - 11.20 am
"Gun alert on oxford circus right now? is it true?" - 11.25am
"Gunman loose in Oxford Circus?" - 11.26am
"is there a shooting in Oxford Circus right now???? this is what i'm hearing" - 11.26
"shooting in oxford circus - talk of the office. True or Hoax?" - 11.27am
"@BBCBreaking @SkyNews is there a shooting at oxford circus right now, that what i'm hearing. or is it a hoax email i've got??" - 11.27am
"Apparently theres a shooting at Oxford Circus, gunmen on the move. We've been told to stay in. Guess I'm not gonna have McDonalds lunch then" - 11.28am
"Shooting in progress in Oxford Circus, stay safe people." - 11.28am
& so on...
(Full grabs and list of tweets here)
'Oxford Circus' became a trending topic, news channels and the police investigated... It's easy to see how these rumours start, but luckily twitter was also able to spread the denial very quickly too.