Publications – University of Copenhagen

Digital Disinformation > Publications


Frederik Georg Hjorth & Rebecca Adler-Nissen (2019). "Ideological Asymmetry in the Reach of Pro-Russian Digital Disinformation to United States Audiences". Journal of Communication, Volume 69, Issue 2, April 2019, pages 168-192,

Despite concerns about the effects of pro-Russian disinformation on Western public opinion, evidence of its reach remains scarce. We hypothesize that conservative individuals will be more likely than liberals to be potentially exposed to pro-Russian disinformation in digital networks. We evaluate the hypothesis using a large data set of U.S.-based Twitter users, testing how ideology is associated with disinformation about the 2014 crash of the MH17 aircraft over eastern Ukraine. We find that potential exposure to disinformation is concentrated among the most conservative individuals. Moving from the most liberal to the most conservative individuals in the sample is associated with a change in the conditional probability of potential exposure to disinformation from 6.5% to 45.2%. We corroborate the finding using a second, validated data set on individual party registration. The results indicate that the reach of online, pro-Russian disinformation into U.S. audiences is distinctly ideologically asymmetric.

Golovchenko, Yevgeniy (2018). "Russian disinformation – How worried should we be?". Oxford University Press blog, 11 November 2018. 

Adler-Nissen, Rebecca, Frederik Hjorth & Yevgeniy Golovchenko (2018). "Digital misinformation: Hvordan virker det egentlig?". Puzzle Piece nr. 6, Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen. 

Golovchenko, Yevgeniy & Rebecca Adler-Nissen (2018). "Who spread disinformation about the MH17 crash? We followed the Twitter trail"Washington Post, 20 September 2018. 

Yevgeniy Golovchenko, Mareike Hartmann & Rebecca Adler-Nissen (2018). "State, media and civil society in the information warfare over Ukraine: citizen curators of digital disinformation". International Affairs, Volume 94, Issue 5, 1 September 2018, pages 975-994,

This article explores the dynamics of digital (dis)information in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. International Relations scholars have presented the online debate in terms of ‘information warfare’—that is, a number of strategic campaigns to win over local and global public opinion, largely orchestrated by the Kremlin and pro-western authorities. However, this way of describing the online debate reduces civil society to a mere target for manipulation. This article presents a different understanding of the debate. By examining the social media engagement generated by one of the conflict's most important events—the downing of the Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) over Ukraine—we explore how competing claims about the cause of the plane crash are disseminated by the state, media and civil society. By analysing approximately 950,000 tweets, the article demonstrates how individual citizens are more than purveyors of government messages; they are the most active drivers of both disinformation and attempts to counter such information. These citizen curators actively shape competing narratives about why MH17 crashed and citizens, as a group, are four times more likely to be retweeted than any other type of user. Our findings challenge conceptualizations of a state-orchestrated information war over Ukraine, and point to the importance of citizen activity in the struggle over truths during international conflicts.

Hjorth, Frederik & Rebecca Adler-Nissen (2018). "Fake. Prorussisk misinformation rammer skævt". Politiken, 8 April 2018.