Wavelength Weekly

— 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.

“A Year of Misinformation” by Mike Wendling and Marianna Spring, BBC Radio 4, January 5, 2021

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.”

“Social Media Engagement with Deceptive Sites Reached Record Highs in 2020” by Adrienne Goldstein, The German Marshall Fund of the United States, January 27, 2021

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.

“TikTok Sees a Surge of Anti-Protest Disinformation in Russia” by Katia Patin, Coda, January 26, 2021

“To Discredit Navalny Protesters, Russia Spreads ‘Myth’ Of Mass Youth Participation” by Matthew Luxmoore, RFE/RL, January 26, 2021

“In Russia’s messaging battle, the opposition lights up social media. Putin’s allies plod along on state TV” by Robyn Dixon, The Washington Post, January 29, 2021

“Why is Kremlin Tagging Protesters ‘Political Pedophiles’?” by Jamie Dettmer, VOA News, January 29, 2021