Online political disinformation is a real problem. But what about misinformation superspreaders? (+ “Best Abstract” award)

At the 2021 ECREA Political Communication Section Interim Conference (organized this time by National University of Political Studies and Public Administration in Bucharest) along with my colleague Jakub Jakubowski we talked about our findings with regard to the scale of disinformation in the comment sections of two of the largest Polish news websites.

As a result of an analysis of two large datasets (2.5M and 0.5M comments), we found that in case of website (3rd largest audience among news portals in Poland) more than 7% of the comments could be classified as disinformation. In case of the second website (4th largest audience) the scale of disinformation was ten times smaller, the main reason for that being the website requires registration before users are able to comment.

But in our presentation, entitled “Spreading the (misinformation) disease. Discourse in the web portals and political decision-making during COVID-19 pandemic and 2020 presidential campaign in Poland”, we also pointed out that while focusing on online propagand and manipulation, we cannot forget about offline misinformation superspreaders, namely politicians.

Here are our slides:

On the second day of the conference we received a great news: