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

Meta has asked its Oversight Board whether its existing policy on the removal of COVID-19 misinformation — “introduced in extraordinary circumstances at the onset of the pandemic” — should be updated to lessen penalties for violations. The move, announced Tuesday, is part of the company’s ongoing efforts to find a balance between free speech and […]

Facebook is turning to its “supreme court” to decide whether to end restrictions on Covid misinformation, more than two years after the company first started to take special action on posts promoting falsehoods about the disease. The social network is considering changing the way it deals with such misinformation by, for example, labelling it as […]

Ted Anderson, a precious metals seller, was hoping to rustle up some business for his gold and silver dealership when he started a radio network out of a Minneapolis suburb a couple of decades ago. Soon after, he signed a brash young radio host named Alex Jones. Together, they ended up shaping today’s misinformation economy. […]

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 […]

Featured Scholars

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