Wavelength Weekly

— a weekly collection of reporting and research on disinformation — 

First up are two articles written by and then one interview with Joan Donovan, the research director at Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy and one of the country’s foremost disinformation experts.

Writing on The Atlantic, Donovan succinctly summarizes Trump’s “Stop the Steal” campaign and ultimate insurrection against Congress and the Constitution. . .

“Far from a grassroots movement to right an evident injustice, ‘Stop the Steal’ is a coordinated disinformation campaign that brings together an all-star cast of Trump’s most loyal supporters. Far from giving voice to the powerless, it is a last-ditch effort to disenfranchise millions for the sake of illegally reinstalling a defeated president of the United States. And disinformation was only the first step. Having lost at the polls, in the courts, and in state legislative chambers, the MAGA movement is trying to get its way through more and more brazen violence and intimidation.”

“MAGA Is an Extreme Aberration” by Joan Donovan, The Atlantic, January 15, 2021

Additionally, Donovan makes an interesting argument on how social media platforms’ openness and insatiable hunger for more users contributes to disinformation and actually risks their profits in addition to democracy.

“How Social Media’s Obsession with Scale Supercharged Disinformation” by Joan Donovan, Harvard Business Review, January 13, 2021

Lastly, in an interview with Zack Stanton of Politico Magazine, Donovan discusses how “misinformation and online radicalization led to the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol . . . and understanding exactly how that happened is the first step to seeing where we’re headed.”

“The Internet is a Crime Scene” by Zack Stanton, Politico Magazine, January 14, 2021

Next up is CNN’s Brian Stelter on how a “1/6 truther” movement is already ramping up.

“Capitol riot denialism is already here” by Brian Stelter, CNN.com, January 14, 2021

And, finally, Philip M. Napoli, the James R. Shepley Professor of Public Policy in the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, argues on Wired that, with the insurrection at the Capitol, “we find ourselves in a situation similar to the aftermath of Sandy Hook.” When “many asked: If a tragedy of this magnitude doesn’t lead to change on gun control, can we ever expect change?” Similarly, Napoli wonders . . .

“If the disinformation and calls to violence that fueled this democracy-threatening attack do not lead to meaningful responses from policymakers, media organizations, educators, and other stakeholders in a position to counter the accelerating disinformation threat, can we ever expect meaningful change?”

“The DC Riot Is the Sandy Hook of the Disinformation Crisis” by Philip M. Napoli, Wired, January 14, 2021