Countering misinformation and disinformation during contentious episodes in a divided society: Tweeting the 2014 and 2015 Ardoyne parade disputes

  • Paul Reilly University of Sheffield
Keywords: Social media, mis-and disinformation, contentious public demonstrations, Northern Ireland

Abstract

Whereas there has been much research into the manufacture of ‘fake news’ to sow disunity within liberal democracies, little is known about how information disorders affect deeply divided societies. This paper addresses that gap in the literature by exploring how digital media are used to share misinformation and disinformation during contentious public demonstrations in Northern Ireland. It does so by reviewing the literature on social media information flows during acute crisis events, and qualitatively exploring the role of Twitter in spreading misinformation and disinformation during the 2014 and 2015 Ardoyne parade disputes. Results indicate that visual disinformation, presumably shared to inflame sectarian tensions during the parade, was quickly debunked in information flows co-curated by citizens and professional journalists. Online misinformation and disinformation appeared to have minimal impact on events on the ground, although there was some evidence of belief echoes among tweeters who distrusted the information provided by mainstream media.

Author Biography

Paul Reilly, University of Sheffield

Dr. Paul Reilly is Senior Lecturer in Social Media and Digital Society at the University of Sheffield.

Published
2021-06-11
How to Cite
Reilly, P. (2021). Countering misinformation and disinformation during contentious episodes in a divided society: Tweeting the 2014 and 2015 Ardoyne parade disputes. First Monday, 26(7). https://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v26i7.10303