Social networking websites can add fire to the fuel of a false rumour. Simply updating Facebook or Twitter pages may not be enough for organisations concerned with public safety to halt the spread of such rumours, a joint study by Facebook and Standford University in the US indicated.
Such organisations should make an extra effort to find some of the most shared posts promoting untrue rumour and comment there too, the study showed.
When people can see that a credible source has debunked the rumour, they would start taking such stories with a grain of salt.
The sheer convenience of sharing stories make social networking websites vulnerable to being a potential platform for spreading rumours.
The researchers, however, found that true rumours spread faster than false rumours on Facebook.
While true rumours get on average 163 shares per post, false rumours get an average of 108 shares per upload.
What should make public bodies even more concerned was the findings that a dormant rumour can resurface even after weeks and months.
For the study, the researchers tracked thousands of rumours through a website documenting urban legends and examined how they spread on Facebook.