Rumor Watch: 9/11 Terrorist Attack on U.S.
September 11, 2001: The First 48 Hours
News of the devastating terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon swept across the Internet at light speed on the morning of Tuesday, September 11, 2001. So did rumor, gossip and hearsay. What follows is a sampling of Netlore -- true, false, and in-between -- circulating within the first few hours and days of the catastrophe:
Hijacked airliner was purposely shot down
RUMOR: "I heard on the radio that the plane in Pennsylvania was shot down because it wasn't responding to radio calls, but can't get c/d on any of the TV stations."
STATUS: False; denied by Pentagon, unsupported by evidence.
• Jetliner Crashes in PA, Bergen Record
• "Black Box" from Pennslyvania Crash Found, CNN
More than four planes were hijacked
RUMOR: "Up to eight airplanes are said to have been hijacked."
STATUS: False. The total was four and has not been revised by authorities. (This rumor was widely trumpeted as fact in British newspapers.)
• Chronology of Terror, CNN
Some World Trade Center occupants received advance warning
RUMOR: "I know someone in the world trade center and they called on cell phone... They were warned 45 minutes before first hit to leave building."
STATUS: Unsubstantiated; not reported in mainstream media.
Britain was also attacked
RUMOR: "I heard from someone in a chat group who claimed to be from london that Westminster Abbey was hit by hijacked plane too. Trying to verify, but BBC.com is clogged."
Gasoline shortage/price increase predicted
RUMOR: "Due to the events of this morning all ports have been closed. This means no shipping is coming into the United States. This means no oil. Fill your tanks and any portable cans that you have. Do it now before the rush begins."
STATUS: False, though the rumor itself sparked sudden price increases and waiting lines at gas stations in some U.S. cities Tuesday. According to oil industry spokesmen, the U.S. has a "substantial" gasoline supply and some individual stations were simply gouging fearful consumers.
• Gasoline Prices Skyrocket in Some Parts of the Country, CNN
• Authorities Threaten Gas Gougers, Associated Press
• Gas Station Owner Apologizes for $7-a-gallon Price, Associated Press