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

New analysis from researchers at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford, shows how internal processes at RT contribute to the anti-West news agenda and its critical representation of Western government across all RT languages.  The Oxford study is the first of its kind to go behind the scenes, with researchers speaking to former and […]

In a new study by the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford analysis shows that Covid related misinformation videos primarily spread through social media, with Facebook the primary channel for sharing misinformation without sufficient fact checks in place to moderate content. The Oxford study, ‘Covid-related Misinformation on YouTube’, examined over a million Covid-related YouTube videos […]

In early March, when the true scope of the coronavirus pandemic was still widely unknown to the public, misinformation was rampant on social media such as Facebook and Twitter. A recent study examined two early pandemic myths. Researchers from three universities, including Joseph McGlynn, an assistant professor at the University of North Texas’ Department of […]

In January 2019, YouTube began rolling out the system. That’s when Mark Sargent noticed his flat-earth views take a nose dive. Other types of content were getting down-ranked, too, like moon-landing conspiracies or videos perseverating on chemtrails. Over the next few months, Goodrow and Rohe pushed out more than 30 refinements to the system that […]

A conspiracy theory that Donald Trump is waging a secret war against an elite who engage in ritual child abuse is growing across UK social media, Guardian analysis has found. The QAnon conspiracy theory is propelled by an unlikely coalition of spirituality and wellness groups, vigilante “paedophile hunter” networks, pre-existing conspiracy forums, local news pages, […]

Featured Scholars

Harvard Law School, Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society
Assistant Professor of Politics and Public Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs at Princeton University
Associate Professor in the School of Journalism and the Department of Sociology (by courtesy), University of Texas at Austin
Robertson Professor of Media Studies and Director of the Center for Media and Citizenship at the University of Virginia