Two years after the IDF's Operation Brother's Keeper to find the three youths captured and murdered by Hamas, research has come out relating to the Whatsapp rumors of that period.
The research attempted to locate the origins of the rumors, track their paths, and determine who originated them.
Tracking 13 rumors that had been disseminated by Whatsapp during the period, the research found that 69% of the rumors proved to be true, and that journalists, army officials and emergency forces had taken part in spreading the rumors.
Tomer Simon, the instigator of the research and a PhD student in emergency medicine at Ben-Gurion University in the Negev, explained that "people experiencing high-pressure events try to assuage pressure by looking for information about the event. Since there was a gag order on the kidnapping, the public was aided by rumors to fill in the information gap."
The results of the research are surprising, considering that similar research conducted around the world found that a significantly smaller percentage of rumors are true.
"Rumors are, by definition, impossible to prove in the heat of the moment, especially when a gag order exists, but since they seem 'logical' and mesh well with a one's understanding of reality, many accept them as true and pass them on," explained Simon. "During the operation, some of the rumors got to commanders and soldiers looking for the boys, and undermined their confidence in the necessity of their mission."