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A Global Study of Holocaust mis- and disinformation online

A Global Study of Holocaust mis- and disinformation online

Project Contents

Main photo credit: Shutterstock/Nito

Overview

Digitally mediated Holocaust denial and distortion remains a critical contemporary problem. The cheap connectivity offered by the internet has allowed those with extreme views to find each other easily, and to express hateful opinions which they might keep silent in their offline lives. Such online spaces often lack counter narratives, forming echo chambers whereby viewpoints and opinions become progressively more radicalised. And hateful narratives are closely linked to the problem of dis- and misinformation, with fringe conspiracy theories and misleading evidence being critical in the support of hateful belief systems, of which denial and distortion of the Holocaust is a highly prominent example.

In this project, we will conduct a detailed empirical study of Holocaust denial and distortion online. The aim of the project is to rigorously measure the scale of the problem, to raise awareness of particular types of argumentation which are circulating (for example, particular types of distortion or reasons given for denial), and to shed light on the different platforms and areas which are hosting the content.

The findings will go into a report co-authored with UNESCO about the scale and nature of Holocaust denial and distortion.

Image credit: shutterstock/Nito

Main photo credit: Shutterstock/Nito

Key Information

Funder:
  • UNESCO
  • Project dates:
    February 2021 - September 2021

    Major Areas of Research

    Covid-19

    The global pandemic has brought to the fore the pressing problems caused by disinformation, leading many scholars to study the “infodemic” that is accompanying and exacerbating the public health crisis. Disinformation about the virus has already led to serious health repercussions in countries around the world. Our research on COVID-related disinformation looks at the prominence of stories by junk news outlets and state-backed media outlets on social media. ComProp researchers are also investigating the systems that help these junk news stories to succeed: from the online advertising ecosystem to incentives on social media platforms.

    Elections

    The tools of computational propaganda are often deployed around elections, as various actors seek to sway public opinion through legitimate and illegitimate means. Our research on disinformation and elections looks at information-sharing on social media​ by members of the electorate, foreign influence campaigns, and the role of these campaigns in political polarization. We have conducted research on elections in Europe, North America, South America, the Middle East, and Asia.

    Tech Platforms and Governance

    Our team is interested not only in the content of disinformation but also in the technologies and systems that shape the information landscape. To this end, our research examines the various forces constraining and enabling computational propaganda: how tech companies incentivise and amplify problematic content, how governments seek to regulate these companies, and how tech platforms themselves are responding.

    State Sponsored Disinformation

    The tools of computational propaganda are increasingly deployed by states to shape public opinion, sow distrust, and create confusion both at home and abroad. Our research on state-sponsored disinformation looks at the proliferation of “cyber troops” in countries around the world, the reach and contents of state-sponsored media outlets, and the impacts of foreign influence operations.

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