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. 

Live Research Review

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 research review discusses the importance of a unified set of definitions in the social sciences.

Teaching & Learning

Explore course modules, handouts, teaching tools and syllabi about dis- and misinformation.

Latest News on Defining "Disinformation"

Earlier this year, David Lloyd, bishop of the Living Faith Church, told 50,000 people at one of his services in Ogun state that the Covid-19 vaccine was a ploy to kill Africans. The bishop informed his congregation that “they wanted Africans dead” an assertion that spread widely on social and traditional media, with other preachers […]

The Social Science Research Council (SSRC) is an independent, international, nonprofit organization devoted to the advancement of interdisciplinary research in the social sciences and related disciplines through a wide variety of workshops and conferences, fellowships and grants, summer training institutes, scholarly exchanges, research, and publications. Working with partners around the world to link research to […]

The most visible vaccine-skeptical public figures, the likes of Tucker Carlson or Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), understand this. They don’t need to spread demonstrable falsehoods. They can simply focus night after night on outlier cases of severe side effects. Or they can selectively present results of scientific studies or government communications in ways that seem […]

Do you have an idea about how to improve commitment to democratic principles that you would like us to test? Join the challenge! American democracy is under threat. Many Americans are willing to compromise on democratic principles for partisan goals. Some are even willing to resort to violence to help their side win. Extreme dislike […]

Vaccine hesitancy is an increasing problem at a time when, with the emergence of the highly contagious delta variant, compliance is more important than ever. As our leaders and public health experts struggle to find the best way to promote compliance, one thing is increasingly clear — condescension or assertion, or a sleeve of numbers […]

Featured Scholars

Harvard Kennedy School, Technology and Social Change Research Project
Associate Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
Colorado State University