Infodemic: The dissemination of misinformation online
This research considers how both automated systems and Americans themselves disseminate false information, relevant to political America, online through social media. The project is based off a 2018 MIT investigation that found misinformation is spread much faster and much further than factual information.
The process of the online distribution of false information keeps shifting in reaction to the nature of events that become prevalent subjects of misinformation. These seismic shifts include major political events, particularly the 2016 and 2020 US presidential elections and the subsequent 2021 Capitol insurrection. As mainstream social media sites have sought to mute or label misinformation, the users spreading it have been migrating to less mainstream websites that are less prone to censorship. As an example of these shifts, amongst conservatives, former president Donald Trump’s dismissal from social media has sped up this process. Many users disseminate misinformation much faster and more frequently on these more niche sites. Simultaneously however, they share their most popular content on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to reach more people.