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When Web Rumors Run Amok

The Internet's vast information highway has opened up many new avenues for sharing information. Much of it is helpful. But a disturbing amount of it is false. After last month's Indian Ocean tsunami, images of deadly waves flooded e-mail accounts around the world. And many of the most spectacular pictures were fabricated.

Then came an onslaught of Internet rumors about what caused the tsunami, and whether donor nations had ulterior motives for sending aid to the victims.

Henry Farrell teaches political science at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. With Daniel Drezner, Farrell, co-authored "Web of Influence," an article for Foreign Policy magazine. Farrell discusses the growing phenomenon of cyber rumors with NPR's Scott Simon.

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Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.