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"

(dis)Info Studies: André Brock, Jr. on Why People Do What They Do on the Internet The Black internet has a long history. It has multiple points of origin, as Charlton McIlwain has documented—from Afronet, a BBS network for Black users, to NetNoir, an AOL-based portal “devoted to Afrocentric material,” both of which launched in the […]

From undermining democracy to inciting genocide, the global dangers of disinformation on social media are now well known. But despite countless calls for better legal regulation or intensified content moderation, the efforts of governments and social media companies to combat this threat have proven either woefully inadequate or dangerous to democratic practice. The problem is […]

The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is now accepting fellowship applications for the 2022-2023 academic year through our open call. This opportunity is for scholars who wish to spend 2022-2023 in residence in Cambridge, MA as part of the Center’s vibrant community of research and practice, and who seek to […]

Disinformation — about the Jan. 6 attack, COVID-19, vaccines, etc. — shaped the nation’s politics in 2021 and likely will continue to do so throughout the coming year. EYDER PERALTA, HOST: Fuelling the riot at the Capitol on January 6 was, of course, the verifiably false claim that former President Trump won the election. And […]

At the end of 2020, it seemed hard to imagine a worse year for misinformation on social media, given the intensity of the presidential election and the trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic. But 2021 proved up to the task, starting with the Jan. 6 insurrection and continuing with copious amounts of falsehoods and distortions about […]

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