Collective Sensemaking and Location-Related Factors in the Context of a Brand-Related Online Rumor

Alton Yeow Kuan Chua, Anjan Pal*, Dion Hoe Lian Goh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


This paper examines collective sensemaking over the life cycle of an online rumor while considering two location-related factors: geographical proximity and cultural context. It has drawn data for a rumor case where a US-based customer claiming that Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) had served a fried rat. The rumor became viral on the Internet but was eventually debunked. The data included tweets across the three stages—parturition, diffusion, and control—of the rumor life cycle. Content analysis was employed followed by chi-square tests and binary logistic regression. Based on content analysis of 1,276 tweets, opinion-related posts were found to be prevalent at the onset of the rumor life cycle while information-related entries continued to swell through the stages. Tweets from both within as well as outside the US were evident in the early stages but they became localized before the rumor subsided. While there was a blurring of high and low cultural context in opinion-related tweets, information-related tweets reflected the communication of low-context culture as the process of collective sensemaking unfolded. The paper augments the rumor literature by exploring geographical proximity and cultural context in the process of collective sensemaking over the three stages of the rumor life cycle. It offers implications for practitioners to deal with online rumors.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDigital Libraries at Times of Massive Societal Transition - 22nd International Conference on Asia-Pacific Digital Libraries, ICADL 2020, Proceedings
EditorsEmi Ishita, Natalie Lee Pang, Lihong Zhou
Number of pages16
ISBN (Print)9783030644512
Publication statusPublished - 26 Nov 2020
Event22nd International Conference on Asia-Pacific Digital Libraries, ICADL 2020 - Kyoto, Japan
Duration: 30 Nov 20201 Dec 2020

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science (including subseries Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence and Lecture Notes in Bioinformatics)
Volume12504 LNCS
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


Conference22nd International Conference on Asia-Pacific Digital Libraries, ICADL 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, Springer Nature Switzerland AG.


  • Collective sensemaking
  • Cultural context
  • Geographical proximity
  • Rumor
  • Social media communication

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