In addition to describing hoaxes and chain letters found on the Internet, we will discuss how to recognize hoaxes, what to do about them, and some of the history of hoaxes on the Internet.
Hoaxbusters has references to other sites including
The CDC site also has an article on why it is important to track rumors–I haven’t yet found a similar hot-line for us locally. There is a national CDC hotline 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636). Each community should include rumor control in your preparedness plan. I can post community plans or guidelines on-line here, if you wish. They could be models for other communities to use.
We describe the enhanced rumor surveillance during the avian influenza H5N1 outbreak in 2004. The World Health Organization’s Western Pacific Regional Office identified 40 rumors; 9 were verified to be true. Rumor surveillance informed immediate public health action and prevented unnecessary and costly responses….
WPRO’s enhanced rumor surveillance system identified many rumors. Most were identified in the first few weeks after the public health alert. A similar pattern was also observed during the 2003 SARS outbreak, when most rumors were received within the first 7 weeks of the public health alert. The decreased rate of rumor detection later in the outbreak is consistent with Allport and Postman’s basic law of rumor. According to this law, the amount of rumors in circulation is roughly equal to the importance of the rumor multiplied by the uncertainty surrounding the rumor. We found that, as more information became available about the outbreaks and about the H5N1 virus, fewer rumors circulated. This decrease was despite the fact that the importance of the disease remained high because of the ongoing risk for evolution of a pandemic influenza strain.
Samaan G, Patel M, Olowokure B, Roces MC, Oshitani H, and the World Health Organization Outbreak Response Team. Rumor surveillance and avian influenza H5N1. Emerg Infect Dis [serial on the Internet] 2005 Mar [date cited]. Available from