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

One of the growing problems today is misinformation: the proliferation of fake news and misleading content across social media platforms. While artificial intelligence (AI) helps in its spread, there has been growing proof of how it can be used to curb this problem. However, more than just the daily news article, misinformation has far-reaching – […]

I am a former Facebook employee who was fired in September 2020, after working for over two and a half years as a member of the fake engagement team. I became a whistleblower earlier this year. While my work at Facebook protecting elections and civic discourse has been widely reported on, that was conducted in […]

The dangers of misinformation spreading on social media during the COVID-19 pandemic are known. However, software that allows individuals to generate automated content and share it via counterfeit accounts (or “bots”) to amplify misinformation has been overlooked, including how automated software can be used to disseminate original research while undermining scientific communication. We analyzed conversations […]

Carinés Moncada gained notoriety last year after she made the racist, on-air claim that Black Lives Matter is a Satanic cult out to “destroy U.S. cities.” The day after the Jan. 6 Capitol riot in Washington D.C., Moncada — who co-hosts the popular Spanish-language radio talk show “Cada Tarde” (Each Afternoon) on Miami AM station […]

The true extent of coronavirus vaccine misinformation is something that, like all misinformation, is difficult to gauge. Many Americans — particularly Republicans — are declining vaccination, but plenty of them are doing so because of a perceived lack of necessity. From there, various theories abound, including about what’s in the vaccines and potential side effects. But […]

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
Assistant Professor of Politics and Public Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs at Princeton University
Executive Director of First Draft News