The Rumour Monitor

True or False? A news tool to determine whether online stories are true or false is being developed by universities in the UK and Germany, writes David Manners. Sensationalist, rumour-based web publishing may never be the same again.

Dresden Fama

The journo's dilemma is almost upon us - the lie detector test for web-based statements.

That old approach to a story: 'XXX Corp do not deny that their products poison children" will no longer be a possible approach to getting a sensational story published on the web.

A tool to determine whether stories are true or false is being developed by the universities of Sheffield, Warwick, Saarland in Germany, Modul in Vienna and King's College London.

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The tool will classify online stories into four types:

  • Speculation
  • Controversy
  • Misinformation
  • Disinformation.

The tool will look to the authority of the body disseminating the information - i.e. whether it's a mainstream news outlet, a journo. an expert, an eye witness or a citizen.

It will also consider the previous reliability of the source in question.

Development of the tool is about 18 months away from completion - a period of time often described as 'Sometime, Never' - and will be called Pheme after the mythological Greek famed for spreading rumours.

Image: Brunswyk - Sculpture of Pheme/Fama on the roof of the Dresden University of Visual Arts. It was sculpted by Robert Henze, it stands on the Brühl's Terrace. (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0)



  1. Not now, Kurt.

  2. Hi David,
    I´ve developped my own Rumour Monitor/Detector. Your story was ckecked! Here is the result:
    *** The story “Rumour Monitor” by David Manners fulfills the following criterias:
    Disinformation. ***

    Kind regards, Kurt.
    See you next week in Nürnberg?

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