The Fear of Ebola: A Tale of Two Cities in China

Xinyue Ye, Shengwen Li, Xining Yang, Jay Lee, Ling Wu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

10 Scopus citations


Emerging social issues have often led to rumors breeding and propagation in social media in China. Public health-related rumors will harm social stability, and such noise negatively affects the quality of disease outbreak detection and prediction. In this chapter, we use the diffusion of Ebola rumors in social media networks as a case study. The topic of rumors is identified based on latent Dirichlet allocation method, and the diffusion process is explored using the space-time methods. By comparing Ebola rumors in the two cities, the chapter explores the relationship between the spread of rumors, user factors, and contents. The results show that: (1) rumors have a self-verification process; (2) rumors have strong aggregation characteristics, and similar rumors in different regions at the same period of time will lead to a synergistic effect; (3) non-authenticated users are more inclined to believe the rumors, while the official users play a major role in stopping rumors as they pay more attention to the fact; (4) the spread and elimination of rumors largely depend on the users who have more followers and friends; and (5) the topics of rumors are closely related to the local event.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Geographic Information Science
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media Deutschland GmbH
Number of pages20
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameAdvances in Geographic Information Science
ISSN (Print)1867-2434
ISSN (Electronic)1867-2442

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Information Systems
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geography, Planning and Development


  • China
  • Ebola
  • LDA
  • Rumor
  • Social media


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