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"

Conspiracy theorists have latched on to the debate over US abortion rights on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and TikTok, leading to a spike in misinformation around what is already one of the most politically-charged topics online — and signaling the complex decision-making that lies ahead for social media companies if the procedure becomes illegal in some […]

The sheer scale of disinformat­ion on social media platforms is harming youths in India with no serious efforts shown by companies to combat the menace, says a new report.The report titled Politics of Disinfor­mation, released on Thursday by the Delhi-based non-profit Future of India Found­a­t­ion, follows discussions with youths in eight states to understand their […]

Nina Jankowicz’s new book, “How to Be a Woman Online,” chronicles the vitriol she and other women have faced from trolls and other malign actors. She’s now at the center of a new firestorm of criticism, this time over her appointment to lead an advisory board at the Department of Homeland Security on the threat […]

Russia has pioneered a model of disinformation to gain political influence in Africa that is now being replicated by other actors across the continent. Disinformation is the intentional dissemination of false information with the intent of advancing a political objective. Africa has been the increasingly frequent target of such campaigns. In recent years, dozens of […]

Scroll through social media feeds today and you can expect to be bombarded with dubious claims about Russia’s war in Ukraine. Many were created by or on behalf of Russia, either to cast doubt on atrocities or to condemn Ukraine and its leaders for things they didn’t do. Fact-checkers like PolitiFact work to determine the […]

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