Reports and Public Scholarship

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Global Fears of Disinformation: Perceived Internet and Social Media Harms in 142 Countries

15 December 2020

Working Papers & Data Memos

Internet disinformation, fraud and harassment have emerged as global concerns. While governments, industry, and civil society groups around the world struggle to address these concerns, there is little comparative data on public perception of the risks associated with using social media and the internet. In this memo, we analyze survey data of 154,195 participants living in 142 countries. On average, people rarely identify technology-related risks as the most prominent threats to their quality of life. But they feature prominently for a significant proportion of the global population and, naturally, feature very prominently for respondents who regularly use social media and the internet. First, we find that globally, disinformation is the single most important fear of internet and social media use and more than half (53%) of regular internet users are concerned about disinformation. Second, almost three quarters (71%) of internet users are worried about a mixture of threats, including online disinformation, fraud and harassment. Third, there is interesting variation in how concerned people are with particular internet harms: worry about the impact of disinformation is highest in North America and Europe, and lowest in East and South Asia; concern about online harassment is higher among women, and especially so among women in Latin America. ..

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Covid-related misinformation on YouTube: The spread of misinformation videos on social media and the effectiveness of platform policies

18 September 2020

Working Papers & Data Memos

For this memo, we identified all Covid-related videos which circulated on social media, but which YouTube eventually removed because they contained false information. Between October, 2019 and June, 2020 there were 8,105 such videos – less than 1% of all YouTube videos about the coronavirus. We find that:..

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Follow the Money: How the Online Advertising Ecosystem Funds COVID-19 Junk News and Disinformation

3 August 2020

Working Papers & Data Memos

As people around the world turn towards search engines to access information about COVID-19, it is important to understand why and how users are being exposed to junk news content. In this memo, we examine the role of search engines and their optimization processes in directing traffic towards junk news & disinformation about COVID-19, and how these sites, in turn, monetize that traffic through digital advertising. We ask:..

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Junk News Distribution on Telegram: The Visibility of English-language News Sources on Public Telegram Channels

20 July 2020

Working Papers & Data Memos

Messaging platforms such as Telegram are key channels for the dissemination of misinformation and junk news. So far there are very few large-scale studies of how news and political content circulates on these platforms. We use a large open access dataset to analyze which English-language news sources are prevalent on public Telegram channels, the scale of their audience and how information spreads on the platform. Our key results are:..

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Covid-19 News and Information from State-Backed Outlets Targeting French, German and Spanish-Speaking Social Media Users

29 June 2020

Working Papers & Data Memos

In this data memo, we examine French, German and Spanish-language distribution of coronavirus (COVID-19) news and information originating from media outlets backed by the governments of China, Iran, Russia and Turkey. We measure the total distribution networks of these state-backed media outlets on Facebook and Twitter, and compare how social media users are engaging with that content. Over the three-week period of this study, we find that:..

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