Articles by Becca Lewis

  • Article

    Why influence matters in the spread of misinformation

    November 20, 2018 by Becca Lewis

    Why influence matters in the spread of misinformation

    Photo by Edward Musiak on Flickr.

    Becca Lewis is a Ph.D student in communications working at Data & Society. Below she writes about findings from a recent Knight report that explored how misinformation spread during the 2016 presidential election. 

    If you start paying attention to the issue of online disinformation, you will start to hear a lot about the role of “influence.” Most notably, media outlets have done widespread reporting on Russia’s so-called “influence campaigns,” meant to impact U.S. elections. But “influence” is an important online phenomenon more generally. If you use Instagram, for example, you almost certainly have encountered “brand influencers,” who build devoted audiences and then attempt to sell them products and services. Influence, then, is a crucial phenomenon online: it means having a powerful voice and using that voice to have an impact, whether political or commercial.