#RumorsCOVID-19: Predicting the Forwarding of Online Rumors in Wuhan, China and in Israel

Yaron Ariel, Vered Elishar-Malka, Shuo Seah, Dana Weimann-Saks, Gabriel Weimann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)550-569
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Communication Gazette
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • COVID-19
  • online rumors
  • pandemic
  • personal needs
  • rumors credibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science


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