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"

Who says academics can’t work on tight deadlines? A few days after the 2016 U.S. presidential election — you may remember it, a real estate guy won — a group of political scientists, communications scholars, and other academics put together a collection of 80-plus pieces reacting to the result through the lens of social science. […]

Platforms are increasingly using transparency, whether it be in the form of political advertising disclosures or a record of page name changes, to combat disinformation campaigns. In the case of state-controlled media outlets on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter this has taken the form of labeling their connection to a state. We show that these labels […]

In 2020, amid a pandemic and protests and a presidential election, misinformation lays in wait everywhere. It’s on our social media feeds, coming out of the mouths of our politicians, and printed in pamphlets mailed to our doors, intermingling indistinguishably with facts. The World Health Organization has termed this an infodemic. Some of it is […]

In 2020, the world found itself in a precarious position unlike any other in the modern era. The novel coronavirus spread like wildfire across the globe, causing social isolation, economic shutdowns, prolonged illness, and, in many cases, death. No one anticipated struggling through a mammoth global health emergency. It was shocking and horrifying, and there’s […]

Online Social Networks and Media have revolutionized society, and are now a key part of how most people work, live, socialize, find information and entertain themselves. But whilst they have generated huge benefits, leading to unprecedented connectivity across the globe, online social networks have also enabled the spread of hazardous and dangerous behaviours. Such ‘online […]

Featured Scholars

Colorado State University
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