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Comparative Approaches to Disinformation: Call for Extended Abstracts

Workshop at Harvard University & Special Journal Issues

From misleading news stories around the 2018 Brazil elections to a lynching linked to false social media messages in India in 2019, the deluge of digital disinformation is affecting communications in many countries around the world.

The situation is particularly concerning in emerging democracies, where availability and affordability of digital communication technologies have facilitated production and distribution of false or misleading digital content among populations with low levels of media and digital literacy. At the same time, we are witnessing false narratives spreading across countries and across platforms often orchestrated by networks of operatives coordinating attacks internationally.

While several academic workshops have been organized on the topic of disinformation, little attention has been paid to the examination of disinformation from comparative and international perspectives.

The Workshop on Disinformation to be held at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA on October 4, 2019 will feature scholars from around the world discussing their research on the prevalence, impact, and diffusion of disinformation.

We invite submissions that make new theoretical or empirical contributions to existing bodies of knowledge in this area. A submission could focus on one country or offer comparative perspectives involving multiple countries. It could also examine other areas of research such as cross-platform analysis and recommendation systems. We welcome different theoretical frameworks and methodological approaches, and encourage interdisciplinary approaches.

Potential topics may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • What existing or new theoretical frameworks or methodological approaches might help us better analyze evolving information ecosystems increasingly affected by disinformation and misinformation?

  • How can we empirically identify and track disinformation or measure effects of disinformation campaigns?

  • What are the key cultural, political, social, or technological characteristics contributing to the generation and spread of disinformation/misinformation?

  • What are similarities and differences between countries in terms of the production (media manipulation tactics), spread, and impact of disinformation?

  • What are major challenges in developing countermeasures (e.g., content moderation and freedom of speech)?

Those interested in participating in the workshop should submit an extended abstract (between 1,000 and 1,500 words) with brief biographical notes to disinfoworkshop2019@cyber.harvard.edu by May 31, 2019. Authors will be notified of acceptance of their papers to the workshop by July 1, 2019. Authors of accepted abstracts are expected to present their research at the Workshop at Harvard University on October 4, 2019.

A selection of presenters at the Workshop will be invited to submit full manuscripts of up to 8,900 words to be considered for publication in a special issue of the International Journal of Communication. The International Journal of Communication, listed in leading indexing sources including SSCI, is an interdisciplinary journal offering scholarly analyses and discussions of key communication and related topics.

Workshop participants are also invited to submit to the Harvard Shorenstein Center’s new fast-review journal, the Misinformation Review. These short essays (up to 3,000 words) should focus on practical implications for understanding and combating disinformation. They will be peer-reviewed and published on the Misinformation Review about a month after submission (essays will be submitted and published on a rolling basis).

Below are key dates.

  • Workshop abstract submission deadline: May 31, 2019 (disinfoworkshop2019@cyber.harvard.edu)

  • Workshop abstract acceptance notice: July 1, 2019

  • Workshop at Harvard University: October 4, 2019

  • [Optional] Full paper submission deadline (International Journal of Communication special issue): February 1, 2020

  • [Optional] Essay submission deadline (Harvard Shorenstein Misinformation Review journal): Essays will be accepted and published on a rolling basis

If you have any questions, please email the workshop organizers and special issue editors:

  • Hyunjin Seo, University of Kansas (hseo@ku.edu); Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University (hseo@cyber.harvard.edu) [Workshop/International Journal of Communication]

  • Rob Faris, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University (rfaris@cyber.harvard.edu) [Workshop/International Journal of Communication]

  • Joan Donavan, Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, Harvard University (joan_donovan@hks.harvard.edu) [Workshop/Misinformation Review]

  • Irene Pasquetto, Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, Harvard University (irene_pasquetto@hks.harvard.edu) [Workshop/Misinformation Review]

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