Putting disinformation studies into the discussion

Fake news and disinformation are concepts that have entered everyday life, which we can no longer consider foreign to most people. Academic interest has accompanied this growing interest, especially in recent years. In a quick search exercise on Google Scholar, we identified more than 25,000 studies related to disinformation, with about 40% appearing in the last three years. It is in this sense that a new publication, “Disinformation Studies: Perspectives from An Emerging Field” appears, a book edited by João Carlos Correia, Pedro Jerónimo and Inês Amaral and published by LabCom Books, an open access publisher of the University of Beira Interior, Covilhã, Portugal.

This interest started at the ECREA 2021 Post Conference “Disinformation Studies: Perspectives to An Emerging Research Field”, which took place online. Previously, the University of Beira Interior had already promoted the COVID-19 #DisInfoStudies Seminar, also online but in 2020. After that, the debate quickly widened and was joined by several scholars worldwide. See video ”Universidade Beira Interior – Covid-19 Disinfostudies Seminar” (in English & Portuguese)

According to João Carlos Correi “One level of disinformation has to do with facts and appears mostly related to the deliberate twist of numbers, nature of things, and the furious denial of some common sense and taken-for-granted social facts, or even lies. It is boosted by the emotional factors and by the well-known affection law: people exposed to, understand better, memorize deeply, and share heavily, messages, with which they agree, disregarding the fact of being true or false, depending mostly on the gratification they obtain with that message. It is a kind of information that are articulated with the so-called fake news as a particular repertoire of propaganda in my point of view”.

This book which aims to foster an open debate includes nine chapters:

  1. “Capturing and dissecting the complexity of production and dissemination of conspiracy theories, hate-based rhetoric, and mis- and disinformation online” by Ardian Shajkovci, Ramón Ruti, Asli Altinbay, Matteo Gregori, Amanda Garry & Allison Mcdowell-Smith;
  2. “The twilight zone: case studies in misinformation & mass media” by Alyssa M. Brumis;
  3. “When communication meets international relations perspectives: understanding disinformation in a multicentric political environment” by Alessandra Massa & Giuseppe Anzera;
  4. “Fake news, post-truth, and journalism: weaknesses and strategies in 2018 Brazilian elections” by Luísa Guimarães Torre;
  5. “Opinion-oriented news as a source of polarized disinformation in the EU: a case study analysis during the 2019 EP elections” by Rubén Rivas-De-Roca & Mar García Gordillo;
  6. “Lies are all around but who are the liars? Addressing online disinformation platforms in the Czech Republic and Slovakia” by Ján Hacek & Lucia Virostková;
  7. “Technologies and fact-checking: a sociotechnical mapping” by Oscar Westlund, Rebekah Larsen, Lucas Graves, Lasha Kavtaradze & Steen Steensen;
  8. “The role of fact-checking in fighting the ‘infodemic’ of disinformation on Covid-19: a case study of Polígrafo” by Marina Ferreira & Inês Amaral;
  9. “Framing Covid-19: how fact-checking circulates on the Facebook far-right” by Raquel Recuero, Taiane Volcan, Felipe Soares, Otávio Vinhas & Luiz Ricardo Huttner.

“Disinformation Studies: Perspectives from An Emerging Field” is available for free download here. During 2023, a special issue on studies of disinformation will also be published in the scientific journal Journalism Practice (Routledge).

Pedro Jerónimo

Researcher at LabCom – Communication and Arts (University of Beira Interior). PhD in Information and Communication on Digital Platforms. His research interests are news, media, journalism, disinformation, and media literacy on a more local scale. The digital transition of the media and the adoption of new technologies by journalists are other topics of interest. He was a local journalist.