The Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST) has released a new research briefing on disinformation. The briefing covers potential sources, how and why disinformation spreads, its impact, potential countermeasures, and policy considerations. It is based on a thorough literature analysis and stakeholder interviews, ensuring a well-rounded, peer-reviewed perspective.

The briefing defines disinformation as the deliberate spread of false or misleading content, such as fabricated, manipulated, or false consent from others. It distinguishes disinformation from accidental misinformation, as the former poses a high risk to social stability and democratic processes. It emphasises that it is essential to distinguish between disinformation and misinformation, given their potential to incite social unrest and affect political landscapes.

Technological advances have amplified the production and reach of disinformation, which originates from various sources and spreads through complex networks. The report suggests countermeasures such as fact-checking, removing content, or labelling it as false, as well as media literacy and government regulations.

The briefing finds that stakeholders agree this is a complex issue without a single solution, with a need for focused efforts on prevention and mitigation. In conjunction with this, the briefing explores the debate on impact and mitigation, with mixed evidence on the prevalence and influence of disinformation and ongoing discussions on balancing harm mitigation and freedom of expression.



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