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"

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 […]

Highly realistic manipulated videos generated by artificial intelligence (AI), so-called deepfakes, are just around the corner. Concerns are rising that this technology will be used for disinformation purposes. When seeing is no longer believing, what does this mean for truth in democratic discourse and holding governments accountable? In this paper, DRI’s Madeline Brady breaks down […]

The “infodemic” of misinformation about coronavirus has made it difficult to distinguish accurate information from false and misleading advice. The major technology companies have responded to this challenge by taking the unprecedented move of working together to combat misinformation about COVID-19. Part of this initiative involves promoting content from government healthcare agencies and other authoritative […]

As the harmful effects of disinformation and other online problems on individuals and societies become increasingly apparent, governments are under pressure to act. Initial attempts at self-regulation via mechanisms such as voluntary codes of conduct have not yielded the desired results, leading policymakers to turn increasingly to top-down regulation. This approach is destined to fail. […]

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