Disinformation, misinformation, and “fake news” are long-standing phenomena that, in the wake of the digital revolution, have become newly politicized and consequential. Citizens around the world have instant access to a vast variety of information – some of which is purposely misleading or manufactured for political ends. The known uses of misinformation include coordinated campaigns aimed at influencing elections and undermining democratic processes. In response to these developments, new research on mis- and disinformation is rapidly emerging from a range of academic disciplines.

The Social Science Research Council’s Disinformation Research Mapping Initiative seeks to track and curate that research. As a respected, nonpartisan, and cross-disciplinary organization, the SSRC is uniquely placed to help consolidate an expanding scholarly literature that originates in multiple, partially overlapping fields. As part of this initiative, we will summarize research findings, identify gaps in scholarship, contribute to policy decisions, and translate academic knowledge for a broad audience of scholars, journalists, and interested citizens.

We hope these efforts will prove useful to regulatory, industry, and institutional efforts to strengthen political discourse, reclaim the democratic potential of social media, reduce the spread of hatred and incivility, and strengthen our democracies.

To further these goals, we are building a web platform to host the following features:

Living Literature Reviews describing recent research on digital mis- and disinformation. The literature reviews will be regularly updated to reflect recent scholarship.

In-depth Reflections from a diverse array of experts, who will reflect on the state of the research field, identify remaining gaps in knowledge, and make policy recommendations.

An Aggregation Service linking to relevant news, analysis, and commentary on the web.

A Library of Citations on disinformation research, organized by topic and policy area.

A directory featuring Profiles of Scholars working in this space.

A Calendar of Events related to online mis- and disinformation.

All of these products will be freely available to the public.

Ultimately, the Disinformation Research Mapping Initiative will offer critical support for scholars, journalists, policymakers, and others who care about the relationships between media and democracy. We hope that the resources we provide will help researchers produce scholarship more efficiently, communicate their findings to the public more easily, and develop scholarly consensus more quickly. Finally, we hope that the organizations that fund scholarly research can use these resources to rapidly assess emerging needs.

 To keep up with developments, follow us on Twitter: @SSRCmdn

The Disinformation Research Mapping initiative is generously supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; the Democracy Fund; the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; the Ford Foundation; the S. D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation; the Rita Allen Foundation; and Reid Hoffman.


Project Advisory Board

Yochai Benkler 

Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies & Faculty Co-Director of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, Harvard University 

Joan Donovan

Director of the Technology and Social Change Research Project at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School 

Tim Hwang 

Director of the Ethics and Governance of AI Initiative at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society and the MIT Media Lab, Harvard University & Massachusetts Institute of Technology 

Sarah Jackson 

Presidential Associate Professor at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania 

David Karpf

Associate Director and Associate Professor at the School of Media and Public Affairs, George Washington University 

Safiya Noble 

Associate Professor of Information Studies and African American Studies, University of California-Los Angeles 

Sarah Sobieraj 

Associate Professor of Sociology, Tufts University 

Siva Vaidhyanathan 

Robertson Professor of Media Studies and Director of the Center for Media and Citizenship, University of Virginia 

Claire Wardle 

TED Research Fellow & Executive Chair of First Draft News