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"

The violent insurrection against the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, may prove to be a critical juncture in terms of how our media ecosystem treats disinformation and the individuals and organizations who produce it. On that day, we witnessed exactly what those of us who research the disinformation problem have feared the most, a […]

Last week, a mob incited by President Trump stormed the United States Capitol building. Rioters broke windows, beat law enforcement officers, vandalized offices and tried to track down members of Congress with mayhem in mind. At least five people died. For those of us who cover climate change for a living, the blatant lies about […]

When the pandemic hit last March, 27-year-old Jennifer*, a childcare worker from Virginia, was furloughed from her job, leaving her with little to do but curl up anxiously on her couch with her phone. She’d spend hours a day scrolling through Facebook and Instagram posts about self-healing, spirituality, and trauma, mostly by wellness types she […]

This was one mob they found a way to excuse. Even as scores of President Trump’s usually unfailing loyalists condemned him for moving too slowly to call off the swarm of demonstrators that stormed and ransacked the Capitol, many of his most vocal and visible allies in Congress, the media and conservative politics still could […]

After November 3, some believers in the conspiracy theory that the US presidential election was rigged joined together, undeterred by official assurances of a fair and secure vote, to crowdsource evidence of massive fraud. They organized under hashtags like #DominionWatch, staking out election facilities in Georgia and doxxing voting-machine technicians. The ad hoc group investigation […]

Featured Scholars

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