How Misinformation Spreads

Among the more worrisome aspects of dis- and misinformation in the digital age are the number of people it can reach in a short time, and the persistent recurrence of its narratives in online spaces. What facilitates its spread on social media? How do traditional media amplify disinformation? This collection addresses scholarship on network effects and individual behaviors in spreading misinformation. 

Live Research Review

What are the factors that cause misinformation to spread? To answer this question, researchers have focused on two broad areas. One is the social and psychological characteristics of audience members who decide what to consume and share. Another is the social media networks themselves, and the technologies that encourage and discourage user behaviors.

Teaching & Learning

Explore course modules, handouts, teaching tools and syllabi about dis- and misinformation.

Latest News on How Misinformation Spreads

On November 8, 2021, the American Heart Association journal Circulation published a 300-word abstract of a research paper warning that mRNA Covid vaccines caused heart inflammation in study subjects. An abstract typically summarizes and accompanies the full paper, but this one was published by itself. According to Altmetric, the abstract was picked up by 23 […]

Kat Massey was a visible figure in Buffalo, New York. A longtime civil rights advocate who was active in various local causes, she also contributed articles to the Criterion and the Challenger, two Black newspapers in the city, the latter of which was founded in 1963 to, in its own words, offer the African-American community […]

When Hana found out she was pregnant, she knew she wanted to have an abortion – but her search for a clinic on Google led her to an anti-abortion centre, set on talking her out of her decision. In many US states, BBC News has seen misleading websites advertising these clinics appearing high up in […]

The town of Rockwall, Texas, has a few claims to fame: Bonafide Betties Pie Company, where “thick pies save lives”; the mega-sized Lakepointe Church; and Lake Ray Hubbard, which is lovely until the wet, Texas heat makes a shoreline stroll feel like a plod through hot butter. Now add to that list: Rockwall is home […]

Last month, Factchequeado launched as a way to address misinformation in Latino and Spanish-speaking communities in the United States. Founded by Laura Zommer of Chequeado in Argentina and Clara Jiménez Cruz of Maldita.es in Spain (both are fact-checking organizations), The idea for the venture emerged when Jiménez started noticing that misinformation in Spanish targeting U.S. […]

Featured Scholars

Harvard Law School, Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society
Robertson Professor of Media Studies and Director of the Center for Media and Citizenship at the University of Virginia