Launch of new collaborative research to understand the production, consumption, circulation and regulation of conspiracy theories across Europe.
A new research project housed in the Department of English is underway to understand how digitization affects the spread of conspiracy theories.
The REDACT project, which was funded by CHANSE – a collaboration between 27 funding organizations from 24 countries, sees researchers across Europe looking into some of the unique aspects of the spread of misinformation and disinformation online.
Professor Clare Birchall – co-author of Conspiracy Theories in the time of Covid-19 – leads the project:
“I have long worked on contested knowledge such as conspiracy theories and am delighted to have the opportunity to work with colleagues across Europe on a comparative project. This type of work will allow us to determine how regional histories of propaganda, press freedom, and politics shape online conspiracy narratives.
With so much polarizing misinformation circulating on private, for-profit social media platforms, Professor Birchall points to the difficulties of tackling this social issue.
“Disinformation is a hot topic right now with the so-called infodemic that has accompanied Covid-19, allegations of stolen elections in the US and now the war in Ukraine. The REDACT project will suggest that conspiracy theories are different from other forms of fake news because they are so tied to identity and belonging. We will work with organizations tasked with combating misinformation to address the particular challenges that conspiracy theories present.