The Spread and Mutation of Science Misinformation

  • Ania KorsunskaEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11420)


As the media environment has shifted towards digitization, we have seen the roles of creating, curating and correcting information shift from professional “gatekeeper” journalists to a broader media industry and the general public. This shift has led to the spread of misinformation. Though political “fake news” is currently a popular area of study, this study investigates another related phenomenon: science misinformation. Consistent exposure to science misinformation has been shown to cultivate false beliefs about risks, causes and prevalence of illnesses and disincentivize the public from implementing healthy lifestyle changes. Despite the need for more research, science misinformation dissemination studies are scarce. Through a case study that traces the spread of information about one specific article through hyperlink citations, this study adds valuable insights into the inner workings of media networks, conceptualizations of misinformation spread and methodological approaches to multi-platform misinformation tracing. The case study illustrates the over-reliance of media sources on secondary information and the novel phenomenon of constantly mutating online content. The original misinformant is able to remove misleading information, and as a result, all of the subsequent articles end up referencing misinformation to a source that no longer exists. This ability to update content online breaks the information flow process: news stories no longer represent a snapshot in time but instead living, mutating organisms, making any study of media networks increasingly complex.


Science misinformation Network analysis Network gatekeeping 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Syracuse UniversitySyracuseUSA

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