New Book on Rumors: Rumor and Communication in Asia in the Internet Age

9.27.13blogAuthor, Greg Dalziel, opens the book with the pertinent quote: “Rumor, I believe, is a practical necessity of human existence. It is founded upon the human longing for knowledge; it ap

peals to and satisfies that social instinct which has welded individuals into communities (Chadwick 1932; 8-9).” To be sure, this book explores the existence of rumors within the communities throughout Asia. New communication technology has transformed the way in which news about key events is communicated around diverse societies. Specifically in the book, the various authors explore the immediate aftermath of catastrophic events such as the Mumbai attacks or the Japanese tsunami, the partial accounts, accurate and inaccurate facts, and how rumors and speculations are now very rapidly disseminated across the world. The contributors explore the situations in which rumors flourish and continue to characterize events even after the truth is addressed by the news media or a more accurate account is determined.

NarrativeTrack’s own Drs. Daniel Bernardi and Scott Ruston contributed to this work with their chapter entitled, “Triangle of death: strategic communication, counterinsurgency, and the rumor mill.” Their research explores how rumors fit into and extend narrative systems and ideologies within the context of terrorism, counter-terrorism, and extremist insurgencies. Their work provides an understanding on how oral and digital cultures work within the larger context of socio-political, economic and various cultural factors that make up a given society and why certain rumors can have such a great impact.

For those professionals who work in the communication field or within Asian communities, this book will offer much insight. Greg Daziel’s text is an informative read that frames the political and social impact of rumors within the context of strategic communication strategies and practices of diverse Asian countries.

China: No Rumor Tolerance

China: No Rumor Tolerance

China has taken a strict stand against Internet users for posting what the government deems as irresponsible rumors. Defamatory messages are considered serious if they have a certain about of views or shares and the new rules prohibit blackmail, extortion, and argumentative or provoking language and actions. The Chinese government has been engaged in an anti-rumor campaign for much of 2013 and this seems like the first actionable step in the government creating a matrix to indict Internet users who are found to be spreading slanderous rumors.

It is nothing new that China censors the Internet by blocking access to websites with pornography, gambling and content critical of the Communist Party. This certainly presents impediments of freedom of speech and expression, but more concerning is the lack of definition in the law for what constitutes a rumor and thus the problems for enforcing such. The real concern based on the present judicial clarification is that the concept of rumor is not defined at all and thereby sets up any “message” published on the Internet be it true, partially true or false, will be prohibited merely on the nature of it’s “viralness.” Chinese media on the other has not been punished for wrongly reporting or “rumor mongering” as many would call it.

Sources:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/09/10/221111680/beijing-to-crack-down-on-social-media-slanderous-rumors

http://www.voanews.com/content/china-publishes-new-online-rumor-guidelines/1746378.html

http://advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org/2013/09/11/whats-a-rumor-government-guidelines-face-scrutiny-in-china/

Too Attractive For City Council?

Too Attractive For City Council?

The Rumor:
Nina Siahkali Moradi, Female Iranian Councillor was rumored to be disqualified from her post for being too attractive.

The Backstory:
Nina Siakhali Moradi, 27, is graduate student of architecture and recently ran for Qazvin’s City Council. However, her political career was cut short after religious conservatives ousted her position. She won more than 10,000 votes in June’s election and finished 14th out of 163 candidates and was the first alternate member of the City Council, but when the mayor stepped down, she was denied her seat.

Our Analysis:
There are many stories circulating as to why she was denied her place on Qazvin’s City Council. The Times Middle East quoted a senior official as explaining the situation by saying: “We don’t want a catwalk model on the council.” The International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran said that the disqualification was apparently because of her “non-observance of Islamic codes” and suggested that her campaign posters were a source of the complaints from senior conservative rivals. The controversy continues as many are saying it is illegal for the election review board to disqualify someone who was qualified to run. This comes at a time when the newly elected president Hassan Rowhani has vowed to enforce new civil rights. Because of the inconsistencies with the reasons of her dismissal to a council of conservative men in muslim country, it is easy to suppose the reason was because Moradi is female, attractive and young. Although silenced from city council, Moradi has received much press regarding this injustice and her story has traveled far outside of Qazvin. It is unclear if she will run again, fight this injustice, or continue to speak out against her wrongdoing, but it is clear that she is the current media darling.

Sources:
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/city-council-candidate-too-attractive-for-iranian-politics-8761630.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2013/08/14/nina-siahkali-moradi-female-iranian-councillor-disqualified-too-attractive_n_3754017.html

http://news.msn.com/rumors/rumor-iranian-woman-too-attractive-for-city-council

Letter from Daniel Bernardi, CEO

Letter from Daniel Bernardi, CEO

To our clients, colleagues, and friends:

As a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy, I was deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom as a Public Affairs Officer and witnessed firsthand the devastating effects rumors have as they gain traction across time, space, media, and coalesce with pertinent Master narratives. Similarly, while deployed on humanitarian missions across the world from Iraq, I saw related rumors having the same negative effects. It was then that I realized the need for a tool to alert us when such stories become a threat to our missions and strategic communication campaigns, be they military or civilian.

Additionally as a scholar of narrative studies, I recognize the struggle to distinguish fact from fiction. Why do certain rumors propagate and go viral? Why are some rumors more adverse? How can we prevent such stories from damaging our reputation or our image? And, furthermore, what can we do to strategically minimize the negative effects of rumors?

NarrativeTrack’s technology locates and evaluates suspicious stories circulating throughout the media sphere. By collecting, geo-spatially locating and analyzing these stories, we can identify emerging threats to our client’s brands and strategic communication goals. NarrativeTrack arms clients with advanced tools and a team of battle-tested communicators that develop targeted strategies and tactics to take action against those threats. We protect and extend corporate, government and individual brands and communication plans our clients have worked hard to build. And with our world renowned team of scholars, communication strategists and crisis prevention teams, we deliver the best experience possible to our clients’ specific needs.

As NarrativeTrack’s various platforms become publically available, I encourage you to engage with our website and search out rumors that may interest you. Our site will allow you to submit to our database rumors you’ve encountered and create statistical reports. Also, with RumorsWiki, you can research historical rumors to better understand how Master narratives are culturally specific and find out how they differ from one society to the next. I encourage you to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to see our analysis of the latest rumors in the media. Additionally, we’ll be using this platform to announce technology and company milestones, discuss pertinent rumor research, and analyze crisis communication strategies and techniques. We hope you join us often to engage in the world of rumors with us.

Sincerely,
Daniel Bernardi, CEO

Trump To Run For President?

Trump To Run For President?

The Rumor:
As reported by Robert Costa of the National Review online on July 26, 2013, Donald Trump has confirmed his interest in running for the 2016 Presidential Campaign. Although early, reportedly Trump is preparing to but his business endeavors on hold to focus on the campaign. Trump is scheduled to travel to Ames, Iowa, home of the Iowa Republican straw pill to speak at an evangelical gathering.

The Backstory:
Donald Trump hyped up his potential run for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, but reportedly pulled out due to his other business obligations. 2016 seems to be a longshot for the once popular candidate who has not had a significant role in the party’s politics since the last election. Many considered his previous presidential interest as a publicity stunt for his television show rather than a legitimate campaign interest.

Our Analysis:
Donald Trump has kept the door open to a possible presidential bid since he fell out of the Republican primaries in May 2011. Staying in the public eye is a key element to his brand, business success and popularity. Although only one source has reported his early 2016 Campaign ambitions, Trump stoking the rumor mill is a sure way to stay in the media spotlight with or without following through to the Primaries. At this point this is a classic example of a curiosity type rumor.

Sources:
http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/354535/trump-heads-iowa-plots-2016-run-robert-costa

http://www.usnews.com/opinion/articles/2013/07/26/should-donald-trump-run-for-president-in-2016

The FBI Has No Case Against Zimmerman

The FBI Has No Case Against Zimmerman

As rumors surround the George Zimmerman trial and verdict, the latest, according to the Miami Herald, is that allegedly the government’s own investigation team has already all by concluded there is not enough evidence for federal indictment of George Zimmermman. However, the Department of Justice has issued a statement of an open investigation of the Trayvon Martin Case. This particular rumor is a classic example of a “curiosity type” although there are various other rumor types as this trial has been incredibly controversial.

http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/07/12/2892510_p2/detective-in-zimmerman-case-said.html

Banks Allegedly Spying On Customers

The United Kingdom’s Barclay’s Bank new customer agreement coming out this Fall allegedly will allow it to track customers location, use, and interests. Though reported to be for fraud prevention, rumors about banks “spying” have merged with the rumor family on governments spying on citizens. 

http://www.infowars.com/bank-to-spy-on-customers-via-cellphone-location-tracking/

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Alleged NSA Surveillance Stirs Tensions in Brazil

As reported by the Christian Science Monitor, documents leaked to O Globo newspaper by Edward Snowden suggest the U.S. has monitored billions of Brazilian calls and emails. President Dilma Rousseff immediately condemned the action, while Brazilian politicians are calling for her to boycott her official visit to the U.S. scheduled for October 2013. This is a classic example of a “wedge” rumor.

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Americas/2013/0709/Alleged-NSA-surveillance-in-Brazil-stirs-regional-tension-again

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Rumors abound about U.S. Embassy staffer being a spy

Ryan Fogle, a U.S. Diplomat is rumored to by a spy. Fogle who was said to have tried to recruit a Russian counterterrorism officer was ordered to leave the country. Regardless of the truthfulness, this rumor is a classic example of a “wedge type” with the intent to instill distrust, suspicion, and a sense of unease about the targeted subject, in this case the U.S. Image