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I'm translating the 'Spectre (security vulnerability)' Wikipedia article to my mother tongue, and it contains a sentence like below;

It was reported that Intel shared news of the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities with Chinese technology companies, before notifying the U.S. government of the flaws.

I can comprehend what it's supposed to convey (Intel failing to notify the bug before anybody else, especially China), but what I'm confused here is whether this is rumor or a fact.

Surely I can find out on my own by reading the cited article, but I just want to know something that native speakers automatically assume from this idiom.

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    I’d assume “It was reported that...” simply means that people who report on such things claimed this to be the case. To me it doesn’t suggest “rumour” but rather suggests it’s what people genuinely believed to be the case (even if it turns out they were wrong). – Orbital Aussie Jan 8 at 12:39
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It is a fact that there were reports. We would have to use our judgement of the quality of the sources for whether we have confidence that the reports are true.

The BBC reports that senior MacDonald's execs are suing for racial discrimination.

If you consider the BBC to be a generally reliable source of news then you would believe that the executives really are suing. This is not just a rumour (though it is a little less than a "fact")

The National Enquirer reports that Brad and Jen have got back together.

I don't have much confidence in the National Enquirer, so I wouldn't have much belief in the report. I'd treat this as a rumour, or mere speculation.

In the case of the wikipedia article, without any source I'd be cautious. However, looking deeper, it seems the reports were made by the Wall Street Journal, a well-known newspaper, this gives me greater confidence...

The point of this is that we don't automatically assume anything. We use our judgement of the quality of the source. Therefore while a native speaker may have greater cultural knowledge for making that judgement, there is no linguistic clue in the text.

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  • It's a great answer, thanks! :) – Gwangmu Lee Jan 9 at 1:32

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