Fighting fake news: online disinformation in covid times

The project will analyse the strategies of three organisations to fight disinformation and anti-vaccination discourses online. It is an international project, comprising researchers from universities in France, Italy, and the UK. 

Start date

27 October 2021

End date

29 April 2022


Fake news amplifies existential threats posed to societies recently exemplified by the anti-vax movements. Using social media analysis, this research identifies discourses adopted by anti-vax campaigns and the most effective counter-campaigns to fight online harm and reduce vaccine hesitancy in Italy, France and Ireland. We analyse the discursive strategies and the cultural, social, legal and economic factors that might influence the diffusion of misinformation on covid-19. Through our expertise in emotional socio-symbolic strategies we focus on the role of emotions, not only disseminating fake news but in fighting fake news. We translate the findings into strategies for policymakers and NGOs to more effectively overcome reduce vaccine hesitancy. The findings will also inform the wider regulatory space in the EU, Member States and the UK, where legislative and policy efforts are being made to improve online safety and the accountability of online platforms.

Aims and objectives

The aims of the proposed project are to understand:

  • What are the main discourses leading to covid-19 misinformation related to vaccination?
  • How are different online groups, or what we call digital social entrepreneurship initiatives developed to fight misinformation and fake news relating to covid-19?
  • What are the emotional, symbolic and communicational strategies these online groups use in order to succeed against misinformation?
  • Are there any cultural, social, political, legal and economic factors that create different responses and strategies? 
  • What should be the communication strategies that different health organisations and other civil society groups develop to increase vaccination rates and reduce the negative social impacts of misinformation? 

Funding amount




Research themes

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