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

Many worldwide have now caught COVID. But during the pandemic many more are likely to have encountered something else that’s been spreading virally: misinformation. False information has plagued the COVID response, erroneously convincing people that the virus isn’t harmful, of the merits of various ineffective treatments, or of false dangers associated with vaccines. Often, this […]

U.S. lawmakers rarely agree these days. But across the political spectrum, most policymakers concur that digital platforms, including social media, messengers, and search engines, pose a problem. They might not agree on what the problem is exactly—either a scourge of unfettered disinformation or a censorship of conservative views—but one approach for answering that question is […]

Conspiracy theorists are using the aviation industry’s concerns about the launch of 5G services near airports as “proof” that their wild claims about the technology are also true. Whether it’s claims that 5G is being used to spread COVID, or that the next-gen wireless technology is part of a plot to control the human population, […]

A wealth of interventions have been devised to reduce belief in fake news or the tendency to share such news. By contrast, interventions aimed at increasing trust in reliable news sources have received less attention. In this article, we show that, given the very limited prevalence of misinformation (including fake news), interventions aimed at reducing […]

The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University is now accepting fellowship applications for the 2022-2023 academic year through our open call. This opportunity is for scholars who wish to spend 2022-2023 in residence in Cambridge, MA as part of the Center’s vibrant community of research and practice, and who seek to […]

Featured Scholars

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
Assistant Professor of Politics and Public Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public & International Affairs at Princeton University