The disinformation landscape and the lockdown of social platforms

Shawn Walker, Dan Mercea, Marco Bastos

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review

44 Scopus citations


This introduction to the special issue considers how independent research on mis/disinformation campaigns can be conducted in a corporate environment hostile to academic research. We provide an overview of the disinformation landscape in the wake of the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal and social platforms’ decision to enforce access lockdowns and the throttling of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for data collection. We argue that the governance shift from user communities to social media algorithms, along with social platforms’ intensive emphasis on generating revenue from user data, has eroded the mutual trust of networked publics and opened the way for dis/misinformation campaigns. We discuss the importance of open, public APIs for academic research as well as the unique challenges of collecting social media data to study highly ephemeral mis/disinformation campaigns. The introduction concludes with an assessment of the growing data access gap that not only hinders research of public interest, but that may also preclude researchers from identifying meaningful research questions as activity on social platforms becomes increasingly more inscrutable and unobservable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1531-1543
Number of pages13
JournalInformation Communication and Society
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2019


  • Application Programming Interface
  • Disinformation
  • community
  • misinformation
  • social media platforms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Library and Information Sciences


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