Conspiracy theories, Fake News & Digital Media

File
The Editors
02/05/2022

According to several commentators we are living in a post-truth era. Of course, conspiracy theories and fake news are not new phenomena, but digital media did enable the upscaling of the circulation, and thus the impact of those conspiracy theories. In this file we zoom in on the relation between conspiracy theories, digital media and their political and societal consequences. 

Picture of Madeleine van den Nieuwenhuizen

How Zeikschrift exposes and reshapes Dutch media

Paper
Iris Olde Hampsink
11/04/2022
13 minutes to read

This paper discusses the content on the Instagram account Zeikschrift and explores how Madeleijn van den Nieuwenhuizen uses the digital vigilantism practices 'calling out' and 'naming and shaming' to criticize and reshape various Dutch media.

Image 1: Birds Aren’t Real van and the founder of the movement Peter McIndoe

Birds Aren't Real: a post-truth 'conspiracy' paradox

Article
Lily Francois
18/02/2022
7 minutes to read

The Birds Aren't Real is a parody social movement with a purpose: making fun of misinformation in a post-truth world dominated by online conspiracy theories

Fake news

Will AI save us from fake news?

Column
Nataliia Vdovychenko
24/03/2022
6 minutes to read

Attempts to decrease the spread of ‘fake news’ might come with the risks of censorship and control.

Spotting fake news for your media literacy

Column
Nataliia Vdovychenko
26/04/2022
6 minutes to read

Is it 'fake news', junk news, misinformation, malinformation, or disinformation? This column is going to sum up the ways in which we can critically evaluate and distinguish the types of misleading information on our (social) media timelines.

Extreme Politics

The post-normal era, uncertainty, and irony politics

Article
Lisa van Turnhout
07/04/2021
9 minutes to read

After decades of crises, normalization and fatigue leads to young people radicalizing online. Irony politics is a way of adopting new political narratives after the political middle has failed to give answers to these crises. 

Flat Earth

Why do people believe in flat Earth?

Article
Nataliia Vdovychenko
24/05/2021
14 minutes to read

The flat Earth belief is pseudoscientific, yet the Internet offers a variety of different arguments on why the official round Earth narrative should be reconsidered.

QAnon members along with Trump supporters

QAnon: The political capital of a conspiracy theory

Article
Lora Ditchev
10/05/2021
16 minutes to read

This article examines how QAnon became an umbrella for a variety of far-right conspiracy theories, and in unifying these ideas produced real political turmoil. 

Conspiracy theories, Capitol riot, fiction,

The Capitol Riots: Democracy, Post-truth and Fiction

Column
Odile Heynders
04/05/2021
7 minutes to read

In light of the Capitol riots, Odile Heynders claims that we have to reflect on fiction and its development in time, in order to understand how the concept is used and functions in today’s society. 

White Genocide conspiracy theory

The white genocide conspiracy theory

Article
Nataliia Vdovychenko
28/01/2022
14 minutes to read

The white genocide conspiracy theory refers to a spread far-right belief that white populations are gradually being replaced with non-whites. How did this theory originate and how has it gained momentum online?

Before Parler was removed from Google and Apple's appstores and deleted from the Amazon servers, Parler users discussed the apparent 'cancellation' of their plaform. An analysis of their responses reveals a complex fusion of very distinct values and beliefs that can be linked to, inter alia, the Manosphere, alt-right movements and a whole range of conspiracy theories.

Donald trump

Trump, lies, and hydroxychloroquine: a case study

Article
Victoria Mohr
18/11/2020
13 minutes to read

This paper analyzes the media storm around hydroxychloroquine as a potential COVID-19 treatment through the lens of Golebiewski and boyd's concept of data voids (2018) and Venturini's concept of 'junk news' (2019). 

Fake news, hybrid media, politics and democracy

Defining fake news in a hybrid media system

Article
Judith Evens
04/01/2021
12 minutes to read

This article unravels various definitions of fake news and situates it within a context of hybrid media, politics and democracy. Fake news can be overwhelming. I aim to bring a little bit of order into the chaotic world of fake news.

"Dems Fraud": Far Right and Data Voids on DuckDuckGo.com

Article
Carmen Gabriela Lupu
30/11/2020
11 minutes to read

This article deals with the 'dems fraud' data void on DuckDuckGo. While striving to overcome filter bubbles, DuckDuckGo has been overtaken by the New Right's optimized information ecosystem that only spreads their views. 

‘5G users be like’: (In)visibility as evidence in 5G conspiracy memes

Article
Mijke Akkermans
09/09/2020
15 minutes to read

For several years, conspiracy theorists have promoted the idea that 5G waves are harmful for one's health, now even relating this to the coronavirus. This paper explores how memes are used to define (in)visibility as evidence within this theory.

Stay home during Corona crisis or be judged.

Covidiots and the ‘stay home behavioural script’

Paper
Lisa van Turnhout
22/02/2021
10 minutes to read

The corona crisis has shown how quickly cultural repertoires can change when society is at risk. The norms we used to take for granted are now turned upside down, changing the way we perceive others and ourselves.

Qanon, Qarmy, Trump

QArmy vs. QAnon Debunkers: The role of confirmation bias

Paper
Federica Morgandi
23/03/2020
12 minutes to read

QAnon is an American conspiracy theory associated with Trump supporters and right-wing politics. How can one article - which seeks to explain what QAnon is - influence debunkers and believers of the theory?

Qanon, Qarmy, Trump

QArmy vs. QAnon Debunkers: The role of confirmation bias

Paper
Federica Morgandi
23/03/2020
12 minutes to read

QAnon is an American conspiracy theory associated with Trump supporters and right-wing politics. How can one article - which seeks to explain what QAnon is - influence debunkers and believers of the theory?

Ellen DeGeneres: talk show host or CIA agent?

Paper
Iris Dumoulin
16/03/2020
11 minutes to read

In 2018, people believed that Eric Trump suggested that Ellen DeGeneres is part of a hidden government within the US. This essay analyzes how this conspiracy theory has come into existence, who plays a role in it, and what this means online.

QAnon appearing at Trump rallies.

QAnon: a wild conspiracy theory with Donald Trump’s support?

Paper
Idhuna Pastoor
29/01/2020
23 minutes to read

The pro-Trump conspiracy theory QAnon has been infiltrating mainstream media at a fast pace. While the president has never publicly stated his support for the theory, many clues suggest that his stance towards its supporters is not unfavorable.

QAnon: The alt-right war machine and social media mobilization

Article
Daniel Obubo
13/07/2020
12 minutes to read

QAnon is a far-right conspiracy theory about an on-going war between President Donald Trump and the "deep state". This article examines how QAnon followers use social media to their benefit by inviting skeptics to read between the lines.

Deep fakes - an emerging risk to societies

Paper
Tunde Farago
18/11/2019
22 minutes to read

Deep fakes are a rapidly evolving technology that can easily fool not just our human senses, but also the software created to counter them. This paper explores their potential social, cultural and political implications.

Facebook and the Rohingya genocide deniers

Paper
Tunde Farago
21/10/2019
17 minutes to read

How do the Rohingya genocide deniers use Facebook to spread their narratives and what kind of arguments do they use to support their claims?

white terrorism, deus vult, crusader, knights templar

White terrorism, white genocide and metapolitics2.0

Column
Ico Maly
23/05/2019
7 minutes to read

The terrorist attack in New Zealand has an offline and an online dimension and it is crucial that we take this online/offline nexus on board when analyzing contemporary white terrorism. says Ico Maly (Tilburg University).

The New Right, Paul Joseph Watson and YouTube

Article
Carmen Gabriela Lupu
18/02/2019
10 minutes to read

This article deals with Paul Joseph Watson's YouTube career. As the Global New Right has quickly spread their content over the Internet, a new scene of New Right YouTubers has appeared.

Understanding conspiracy theories in modern culture

Conspiracy theories in digital culture

Article
Romy van Geffen
25/09/2019
9 minutes to read

Conspiracy theories are not a new phenomenon; they existed long before the Internet came along . Nowadays, however, the media play a big role in contributing to and promoting those theories.