Research Topics

Defining “Disinformation”

What are dis- and misinformation? What about propaganda and “fake news?” How are researchers and activists defining these terms, and how are those definitions evolving? This introductory literature review addresses both contemporary and historical examples of disinformation and misinformation in mass media, and discusses the importance of a unified set of definitions in the social sciences. 

Election Interference

Elections around the world are threatened by rival states and international radical networks. This summary focuses on coordinated disinformation campaigns.

Contexts of Misinformation

We distill recent research on some of the contexts of misinformation, such as increasing political polarization and the potential effects of echo chambers.

Misinformation ran rampant on Facebook throughout the 2016 presidential election, and critics remain concerned that the social media giant has not done enough to address the problem. With the 2020 election approaching, it’s worth looking at which pockets of the country could potentially be the most exposed to misinformation — that is, fake news — […]

The comment sections of blogs can influence perceptions of consensus, which can in turn influence beliefs about climate change, according to new research published in the journal Memory & Cognition. The findings suggest that readers “may be nudged towards rejection of climate science if they encounter a stream consisting of contrarian comments.” “Social media has […]

If the presidential election of 2016 revealed one thing more surprising to the mainstream press than the popularity of Donald Trump, it was just how profoundly dysfunctional their publishing environment was. Suddenly, it became clear that social media news feeds were populated with all manner of propaganda, falsehoods, and political advertising—there was a crisis of […]

“A very #MerryChristmas⁠ ⁠to all,” Margrethe Vestager, Europe’s top antitrust enforcer, wrote on Facebook last December. Her post attracted 144 “likes.” A few months later, as an experiment, researchers paid a company a few dollars to attract attention to her well wishes. In 30 minutes, the post had 100 more likes. The researchers had similar results […]

A new game promises to act as a “vaccination” against climate crisis denial and fake news by teaching users about misinformation tactics. The Cranky Uncle app explains common science denial techniques, such as the use of fake experts, logical fallacies, impossible expectations and cherry-picking data, equipping users with the skills needed to spot inaccuracies in […]

Major news outlets are doing a better job of rebutting President Donald Trump’s falsehoods on Twitter than they were earlier this year but there is still room for improvement, according to a new study from Media Matters. Media critics argue that news outlets err by passing along Trump’s misinformation in headlines and social media posts without fact-checking […]

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Live research from the digital edges of democracy
MediaWell compiles news and scholarship on digital disinformation and misinformation. Our literature reviews and news collections curate the latest knowledge on networked democracy, media, and technology.