New paper on Disinformation and Covid-19

Our research lab has another paper out! “Bolsonaro and the Far Right: How Disinformation About COVID-19 Circulates on Facebook in Brazil” has just been published in the International Journal of Communication. This paper brings some of the results from the research project about Online Disinformation and the Covid-19 pandemic in Brazil. While much has been said about the influence of politicians and the far-right on disinformation, this is one of the first results that brings some data the reinforces this connection is real and political polarization seem to have a huge influence in driving this type of content. Not only we show that disinformation is drive by political content, but also, that fact-checking is unable to circulate among the same pages and groups disinformation circulates.

Here is the abstract:
This article tackles the circulation of disinformation and compares it to fact-checking links about COVID-19 on Facebook in Brazil. Through a mixed-methods approach, we use disinformation and fact-checking links provided by the International Fact-Checking Network/Poynter, which we looked for in CrowdTangle. Using this data set, we explore (1) which types of public groups/pages spread disinformation and fact-checking content on Facebook; (2) the role of political ideology in this process; and (3) the network dynamics of how disinformation and fact-checking circulate on Facebook. Our results show that disinformation tends to circulate more on political pages/groups aligned with the far-right and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, on religious and conspiracy theory pages/groups, and alternative (hyperpartisan) media. On the other hand, fact-checking circulates more on leftists’ pages/groups. This implicates that the discussion about COVID-19 in Brazil is influenced by a structure of asymmetric polarization, as disinformation spread is fueled by radicalized far-right groups.