Read at Nieman Lab
Disinformation and misinformation can have an impact on voting behavior, whether through negative campaigning or deliberate misleading tactics. However, the lack of consensus and clarity in defining and categorizing disinformation poses a challenge for researchers and the general public.
Voters are already fairly savvy - they know that campaigning tactics often include distortions and untruths. Both types of tactics, positive and negative, can feature misinformation, which loosely refers to inaccurate, false and misleading information. Sometimes this even counts as disinformation, because the details are deliberately designed to be misleading.
The lack of clear definitions for misinformation and disinformation hampers efforts to measure the scale of the problem and trust research on the topic. Different types of content, such as propaganda, deep fakes, fake news, conspiracy theories, news parody, and political satire, can all fall under the spectrum of disinformation depending on the definition used. Researchers need to provide clear definitions and compare different types of disinformation to understand its impact on voting behavior.
Unfortunately, researchers often fail to provide clear definitions, and do not carefully compare different types of disinformation, adding uncertainty to evidence examining its effect on voting behavior.