I have chosen these cases because they all have different sources and different ways of being spread: (1) is impossible to track to the source, yet it emerged as one of the most widely circulating rumours in connection with 9/11. (2) is the brainchild of a French conspiracy theorist who turned it into a bestselling book, and (3) came from a fake website pretending to be Al-Jazeera before it was picked up by newspapers in the Arab world.
The dissertation will first examine who spread those stories and what the political motivation is behind these types of urban legends. Second, it will examine how they passed from obscure websites into mainstream media. Third, it will explore strategies employed by the U.S. Department of State in fighting these rumours. Fourth, it will examine if these efforts to fight the urban legends paid off with a prime audience, Muslim youth in the Middle East. My Hypothesis is that people will reject the counterinformation based on the source. I will conduct an online survey (using questionpro) to test whether or not the students have heard of the 3 rumours and whether or not they believe them to be true. I will then present counterinformation and test whether or not that exposure to this information changes the students� minds.