COVID-19 ushered in almost unprecedented socioeconomic and political challenges. A typical social reaction during such emergencies is rumormongering, which has intensified since the advent of social media. This study explored factors affecting users’ willingness to spread pandemic-related rumors in Wuhan, China and Israel. We tested a multi-variant model of factors affecting the forwarding of COVID-19 rumors. In an online survey conducted in April–May 2020, users of each country's leading social media platform (WeChat and WhatsApp, respectively) reported on patterns of exposure to and spread of COVID-19 rumors, as well as on their motives for doing so. Despite major differences between the two societies, interesting similarities were found: in both cases, individual drives, shaped by personal needs and degree of negative feelings, were the leading factors behind rumormongering. Exposure to additional sources of information regarding the rumors was also a significant predictor, but only in the Chinese case.
Bibliographical notePublisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.
- online rumors
- personal needs
- rumors credibility
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science