Browse Articles of Interest


Obama: I Underestimated the Threat of Disinformation.

April 2022. Atlantic Monthly. By Jacob Stern

Atlantic monthly editor in chief Jeffrey Goldberg in conversation with Barack Obama about the social web, Ukraine, and the future of democracy. April 2022.


Feds inch closer to making social media less toxic.

March 2022 National Observer

Canada could soon see stricter rules to tackle disinformation, hate speech and other harmful content on social media and online platforms. Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez announced the creation Wednesday of a group of experts who will advise the government on how best to deal with the problem while protecting freedom of speech. The 12-person committee will assess ways to tackle a host of problems, including hate speech, child exploitation and incitements to violence.


Aging in an Era of Fake News

Misinformation causes serious harm, from sowing doubt in modern medicine to inciting violence. Older adults are especially susceptible—they shared the most fake news during the 2016 U.S. election. The most intuitive explanation for this pattern lays the blame on cognitive deficits. Although older adults forget where they learned information, fluency remains intact, and knowledge accumulated across decades helps them evaluate claims. Thus, cognitive declines cannot fully explain older adults’ engagement with fake news.


Digital media and misinformation: An outlook on multidisciplinary strategies against manipulation

This survey proposes a systematic review with emphasis on exploring interdisciplinary paradigms and the different strategies that have been used to contain misinformation spread. Through the analysis of the existing literature, five main approaches were identified, systematized, and characterized through examples of guidelines, actions, projects and systems designed to curb misinformation. The analysis comprises perspectives on journalism; education; governmental responses; computational solutions; and digital platforms.


The Canadian government’s response to foreign disinformation: Rhetoric, stated policy intentions, and practices, Nicole J. Jackson International Journal 2022, Vol. 0(0) 1–20 © The Author(s) 2022

In recent years, governments have considered how to respond to “disinformation.” However, there is little academic literature on Canada’s response in the area of security and foreign policy. This paper addresses this gap by analyzing how and why Canadian government foreign and security actors have “securitized” foreign disinformation. It argues that, since 2014, they have increased awareness about disinformation and transformed it into a matter of “security” through rhetoric and discursive framing, as well as stated policy intentions and actions. This has occurred in response to perceived threats, but without coherent policy. The findings suggest that challenges are linked to persistent difficulties in defining and understanding disinformation. The result has been fragmented actions, some of which may legitimate actions that deviate from “normal political processes.” The implications are that definitional challenges need to be addressed, the role of security actors assessed, and a clearly articulated and holistic strategy drawn.


How One Social Media App Is Beating Disinformation

Line, arguably Taiwan’s most popular messaging app, is the main battleground of disinformation in Taiwan. Line quickly took over the Taiwanese market after it was launched in Japan in 2011 by a subsidiary of the Korean tech giant Naver Corporation. In 2019, approximately 90 percent of Taiwanese used the app, sending more than 9 billion messages per day. Like WhatsApp, Line’s design makes it easy to rapidly disseminate harmful and false content: It offers a high degree of anonymity, as user profiles often have only a name and picture, and in combining features such as its own integrated news platform and private and encrypted group chats, it encourages users to share articles within the app. Users have to take an extra step to share to other apps, and this friction point keeps users on Line.


How Facebook and Google fund global misinformation. Nov 2022

The tech giants are paying millions of dollars to the operators of clickbait pages, bankrolling the deterioration of information ecosystems around the world. An MIT Technology Review investigation, based on expert interviews, data analyses, and documents that were not included in the Facebook Papers, has found that Facebook and Google are paying millions of ad dollars to bankroll clickbait actors, fuelling the deterioration of information ecosystems around the world.


Misinformation, Disinformation, and Online Propaganda

The research literature on misinformation, disinformation, and propaganda is vast and sprawling. This chapter discusses descriptive research on the supply and availability of misinformation, patterns of exposure and consumption, and what is known about mechanisms behind its spread through networks. It provides a brief overview of the literature on misinformation in political science and psychology, which provides a basis for understanding the phenomena discussed here. It then examines what we know about the effects of misinformation and how it is studied. It concludes with a discussion of gaps in our knowledge and future directions in research in this area.


Homeland Security advisers say ‘no need’ for disinformation board

Washington Post. July 18, 2022.

Department of Homeland Security advisers urged the agency Monday to scrap the Disinformation Governance Board the Biden administration created this year only to watch it implode amid confusion and partisan quarreling over its role.

Officials said they created the board to fight disinformation-fuelled extremism that might endanger national security, but Republicans and conservative media portrayed it as an Orwellian tool that could infringe on privacy and free speech.


Articles on Disinformation

The Conversation. July 2022

Several articles that address a wide range of issues around disinformation and fake news.


The politics of rage and disinformation — we ignore it at our peril (Canada)

National Observer. July 18, 2022.

Misinformation, disinformation, and conspiracy theories don’t exist in a vacuum, nor do they only live online. They spill out into the real world and impact very real people. And when misinformation, disinformation or conspiracy theories target groups of people already on the receiving end of hate, unsurprisingly, the hate experienced by those groups tends to increase.


Report on the sixth expert roundtable – The role of public service media in countering disinformation, 20 June 2022.

Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. July 8, 2022.

Presentations by:

  •  Teresa Ribeiro, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media
  • Minna Aslama Horowitz, ,Researcher at the Nordic Observatory for Digital Media and Information Disorder (NORDIS)
  • Nicola Frank, Head of the Institutional and International Relations, European Broadcasting Union (EBU)
  • Ara Shirinyan, Chair of the Council of Broadcasters of Armenia
  • Luc van Bakel, Editor-in-chief, research unit of VRT NWS (Belgium)
  • Marius Dragomir, Director, Center for Media, Data and Society (CMDS)


Fake news — what makes it so fascinating to the brain?

Federation of European Neuroscience Societies July 7, 2022.

Studies have shown that unexpected information may be processed in a different way than information that we have already become familiar with. Novelty itself has been linked to motivation since dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with anticipation and reward, increases when we encounter novelty and salience. The tendency of fake news to involve attention-grabbing or shocking propositions is part of its appeal and what allows it to spread so quickly.


The politics of rage and disinformation — we ignore it at our peril.

National Observer. Supriya Dwivedi. July 18, 2022.

Misinformation, disinformation, and conspiracy theories don’t exist in a vacuum, nor do they only live online. They spill out into the real world and impact very real people. And when misinformation, disinformation or conspiracy theories target groups of people already on the receiving end of hate, unsurprisingly, the hate experienced by those groups tends to increase.

In the aftermath of the last federal election, one thing that became abundantly clear was that much of our legacy political media seemed either unwilling or unable to report on the very real threat posed by politicians who use misinformation and conspiracy theories as part of their political shtick to appeal to voters.


One quarter of Canadians believe online conspiracy theories, expert tells MPs

CBC. Elizabeth Thompson. April 28, 2022.

A quarter of Canadians believe in online conspiracy theories, an expert on radicalization and terrorism told a parliamentary committee Thursday. David Morin, a professor at the Université de Sherbrooke, said a poll conducted for an upcoming report he is preparing for the Quebec government found that 9 to 10 per cent of Canadians strongly believe in conspiracy theories, while another 15 per cent moderately believe them.


Obama was warning about disinformation, not endorsing it

Politifact. Jeff Cerone. August 18,2022.

A speech about the dangers of disinformation that former President Barack Obama gave at Stanford University on April 21, 2022, is being used months later on social media to spread disinformation.

"Is he on offence or defence?" read text overlaying a shortened TikTok video created April 30. "Notice he says ‘the game’s won,’ not the game is over."

** Disinformation Project at the School of Communication at SFU


What’s the truth behind fake news? Podcast

Ahmed Al-Rawl. April 7, 2022.

“Fake news” is a term we hear all the time – whether in mainstream media, social media or day-to-day conversations. But what is it really? How do we determine what is “fake news”? And what can we do about it?

Ahmed Al-Rawi is a researcher who uncovers fake news in the media and studies its impact. He believes fake news is more pervasive and dangerous today, and that we all need to be more critically aware of it.


Democracy, disrupted: How digital technologies are being exploited to fuel distrust and disinformation

Dalhousie University. October 26, 2022

Hosted by Dal’s Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and the Department of Political Science with support from CBC Nova Scotia, the Stanfield Conversations: Talking Democracy series features an annual public panel discussion on the state of democracy, focusing on urgent issues regarding the health of democratic institutions and other critical issues facing society.

Three of North America's top experts in the intersection of technology, politics, and society explored these disruptions to democracy during Dalhousie's second annual Stanfield Conversation last Thursday night:


Laurier’s Technology and Human Security Speaker Series kicked off with lecture focusing on disinformation

Laurier University. October 19, 2022

Wilfrid Laurier University invited the community to the Technology and Human Security Speaker Series hosted by the Centre for Research on Security Practices (CRSP).

Professor Martin Innes, director of the Crime and Security Research Institute and the Police Science Institute at Cardiff University, spoke about the social and political challenge of disinformation campaigns. His presentation was titled: “Disinform, Distort, Deceive”


Lessons from the Convoy: We Are Losing the War on Disinformation

CIGI. Charlie Angus. February 2022.

The “freedom convoy” began as a squabble over border vaccination rules but quickly metastasized into a projection of all manner of social and political discontent. It has been hard to categorize because there are so many incoherent and seemingly contradictory elements. But this is the issue we must now confront: the unrest has revealed a fundamental fissure in how we, as citizens, perceive social reality in Canada.......

How do you discuss politics when you’re not arguing facts but reality itself? The convoy has been sustained within an information ecosystem in which people from across demographics, genders and life experiences have simply opted out of national media or other anchors of commonality. They have their own Facebook feeds, Reddit channels and Slack chat information buttressing an utterly alternate reality of science, medicine and politics.

The convoy has made it clear that not only have we lost the war on disinformation, but we also didn’t even know where to look.


Manufacturing consensus and the democratization of propaganda and disinformation

Texas Public Radio. Jeerry Clayton. October 2, 2022

Since the invention of social media, governments, militaries and political parties have worked to control narratives and sway public opinion. Now, in a country facing another national election, just about anyone can do it.

TPR’s Jerry Clayton recently spoke with Sam Woolley, an assistant professor in the School of Journalism and head of the Propaganda Research Lab at the University of Texas at Austin. He's the author of an upcoming book on the subject called Manufacturing Consensus: Understanding Propaganda in the Era of Automation and Anonymity. The book is set for release in January of 2023


Feds inch closer to making social media less toxic.

Oliver Wyman Forum. John Romeo. October 11, 2022.

Disinformation isn’t new. What has changed is the speed and scope of the abuse, and business, governments, and consumers all play a unique role in curbing its spread.

Disinformation is a raging problem right now, but it isn’t new. Roman generals used it to win battles, leaders relied on it during the Black Plague to persecute religious groups, and spies in the 20th century used it to destabilize foreign governments.

What has changed is the speed and scope of the abuse. The internet and social media have dramatically magnified the reach of this age-old tactic, enabling everyone from teens to tyrants to spread lies. And while the distortions have become more pervasive, and the time and inclination to evaluate facts have shrunk.