— a weekly collection of reporting and research on disinformation —
We start with “a look back at false stories that went viral online and the real-life harm they caused” in 2020. From QAnon to Trump’s “Big Lie” of a stolen election to coronavirus conspiracies, last year was awash in mis- and disinformation. “A Year of Misinformation,” a half-hour BBC Radio 4 documentary with BBC Trending presenter Mike Wendling and specialist disinformation and social media reporter Marianna Spring provides a good overview of it all.
We continue the review of 2020 with a short report by Adrienne Goldstein, a research assistant with the Digital Innovation and Democracy Initiative at The German Marshall Fund of the United States. She provides a data-centric look at how “the level of engagement with deceptive content on Twitter and Facebook hit record highs in 2020 and remained high in the fourth quarter of the year, as false and manipulative content about the election and the coronavirus spread widely.”
Last Saturday, wide-spread anti-corruption protests in support of jailed opposition figure Alexei Navalny took place throughout vast Russia’s 11 times zones. Here are four reports by Coda’s Katia Patin, RFE/RL’s Matthew Luxmoore, The Washington Post’s Robyn Dixon, and VOA’s Jamie Dettmer respectively on the social media, disinformation, and messaging aspects of these protests and their aftermath.