The Hewlett Foundation commissioned this report to provide an overview of the current state of the literature on the relationship between social media; political polarization; and political “disinformation,” a term used to encompass a wide range of types of information about politics found online, including “fake news,” rumors, deliberately factually incorrect information, inadvertently factually incorrect information, politically slanted information, and “hyperpartisan” news.
The review of the literature is provided in six separate sections, each of which can be read individually but that cumulatively are intended to provide an overview of what is known—and unknown—about the relationship between social media, political polarization, and disinformation.
These six sections include:
- Online Political Conversations
- Consequences of Exposure to Disinformation Online
- Producers of Disinformation
- Strategies and Tactics of Spreading Disinformation
- Online Content and Political Polarization
- Misinformation, Polarization, and Democracy
The report concludes by identifying key research gaps in our understanding of these phenomena and the data that are needed to address them.