fbpx Visual Mis- and Disinformation, Social Media, and Democracy | Harvard Kennedy School

HKS Authors

See citation below for complete author information.


Visual political mis- and disinformation is still not well understood by the scholarly community as scientific research about this phenomenon is still in its infancy—leaving many questions unanswered. For instance, how can visual misinformation be effectively debunked (Hameleers et al., 2020; Young et al., 2018)? How can backfire effects and continued influence effects of misinformation be best prevented (e.g., Lewandowsky et al., 2020; Nyhan, 2021; Stubenvoll & Matthes, 2021)? Are there ways to inoculate individuals against (visual) misinformation (Basol et al., 2021; Compton et al., 2021)? The aim of the invited forum is to find answers to some of these questions and to bring together leading researchers from the fields of political communication, visual communication, psychology, and data science to provide a comprehensive overview of the state of research, noting key challenges and identifying avenues for future research. The forum brings together expert scholars focusing on key domains of visual political mis- and disinformation. Viorela Dan (University of Munich) focuses on different types of disinformation videos and challenges for journalism and democracy. Britt Paris (Rutgers University) and Joan Donovan (Harvard University) examine online platform functionality and the fight against audiovisual disinformation. Michael Hameleers (University of Amsterdam) points out the effects of multimodal disinformation, and how it can be potentially debunked and efficiently corrected. Based on inoculation theory, Jon Roozenbeek and Sander van der Linden (University of Cambridge) examine an innovative way of prebunking or “vaccinating citizens against visual disinformation” before media users are exposed to multimodal falsehoods. Finally, I will point out “next steps” and future avenues for research on multimodal misinformation. In all, these contributions offer important insights and clarify why we should continue to research and expand our knowledge of multimodal mis- and disinformation in the future.


Dan, Viorela, Britt Paris, Joan Donovan, Michael Hameleers, Jon Roozenbeek, Sander van der Linden, and Christian von Sikorski. "Visual Mis- and Disinformation, Social Media, and Democracy." Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 98.3 (September 2021): 641-664.