Research Projects

Improving the Health of Our Online Civic Culture

Research Projects

Understanding the Everyday Sharing of Misinformation on Private Social Media

O3C has been awarded a significant grant from the Leverhulme Trust to examine why people share false and misleading information on private social media platforms.

Professor Andrew Chadwick, the project’s Principal Investigator and Professor Cristian Vaccari (Co-Investigator) were awarded £347,000 from the Trust’s prestigious Research Project Grant scheme for the study. Their proposal was submitted in May 2019, the award was made in March 2020. The start of the project was delayed until March 1, 2021, due to the global Coronavirus pandemic.

As well as looking at the sharing of misinformation on private platforms such as Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, and Apple Messages, the research will advance knowledge of why some individuals challenge false and misleading information and decide not to share it.

The project, Understanding the Everyday Sharing of Misinformation on Private Social Media, will run for three years and provide for significant fieldwork and a full-time research assistant and funded PhD student.

Read the Loughborough University press release here.
Visit the Project Website.


Reports and Papers 

O3C 1: News Sharing on UK Social Media: Misinformation, Disinformation, and Correction

Download the May 2019 Survey Report by Andrew Chadwick and Cristian Vaccari.

O3C 2: The New Crisis of Public Communication: Challenges and Opportunities for Future Research on Digital Media and Politics

Download this December 2019 state-of-the-field think piece by Andrew Chadwick.


PhD Research Projects

1. The Cultivation of Hatred Online

Primary supervisor: Professor Andrew Chadwick.
Secondary supervisors: Professor Tom JacksonDr Line NyhagenDr Cristian Tileagă.

This studentship has been awarded to Catherine Baker. Catherine holds a First Class Honours Degree in Psychology from Trinity College Dublin, where she also worked as a research assistant in the Trinity Institute of Neuroscience. She obtained recognition of “High Commendation” for her study, “At the intersection of protest and race: A critical discourse analysis of how the Black Lives Matter movement is portrayed in US online popular news media.” Catherine researches gender-based targeting and harassment online, including the "manosphere" online subculture.

2. Incivility and Emotions in Policy Discussions on Social Media

Primary supervisor: Dr Line Nyhagen
Secondary supervisors: Professor John DowneyDr Suzanne Elayan

This studentship has been awarded to Dayei Oh. Dayei Oh holds an MA with Distinction in International Media and Communication from the University of Nottingham and has previously worked at the Associated Press (AP). She researches emotions and incivility in pro-abortion and anti-abortion discourse on Facebook news comments in the UK, Ireland, and South Korea.

3. Correcting Misinformation and Disinformation on Social Media

Primary supervisor: Dr Martin Sykora.
Secondary supervisors: Dr Cristian VaccariDr Cristian Tileagă.

This studentship goes to Rachel Armitage. Rachel holds First Class Honours in Political Science from the University of Birmingham where she also won the H. S. Ferns Prize for outstanding achievement. She has worked for Bite the Ballot and Nottingham City Council and in 2016 was awarded the Nottingham Roosevelt Memorial Travelling Scholarship which enabled her to visit the US for three months to explore approaches to voter registration and political engagement amongst young people and marginalised groups in advance of the presidential election. Rachel's project is developing online tools and individual resilience skills that will equip individual users to recognise and challenge online misinformation and disinformation.

4. Conceptualizing and Measuring Political Behaviour and Mobilization Inspired by Reactionary Ideological Entrepreneurs on YouTube

Primary Supervisor: Professor Andrew Chadwick
Secondary Supervisors: Professor Louise Cooke, Dr Suzanne Elayan

Meghan Conroy was awarded this studentship. Meghan holds a BA in Anthropology from the University of South Carolina and an MA in International Security and Terrorism from the University of Nottingham. Meghan is researching the role of conservative YouTube influencers in mobilizing political behaviours.

5. Class-Based Social Cognition, Social Identity, and Online Civic Culture

Primary Supervisor: Professor Andrew Chadwick
Secondary Supervisors: Dr Martin SykoraDr Cristian Vaccari

This studentship has been awarded to Harvey Dodds. Harvey holds a BA in Politics from the University of Leeds and an MA in Social Psychology from the University of Edinburgh. This project examines the relationship between class, social media use, and political behaviour. It focuses on the interactions between individualist and collectivist values and specific forms of online political engagement.

6. Understanding the Technological Democratisation of Public Opinion Cues

Primary Supervisor: Professor Cristian Vaccari
Secondary Supervisor: Professor Andrew Chadwick

This ESRC 1+3 studentship has been awarded to Andrew Ross. Andrew holds a BSc in Psychology from the University of Durham and an MA in Politics from the University of East Anglia and his MA dissertation was published as a research article in New Media & Society. Perceptions of public opinion have been found to influence democratic decisions, including: vote intention and campaign donations. Traditionally, journalists have played a privileged role in moulding perceptions of public opinion through presenting cues such as polls and ‘man-on-the-street’ type interviews. The latter, also known as ‘vox pops’, can exert powerful influence over audiences’ sense of public consensus. However, technology has led to a dramatic proliferation of who can amplify the voice of the public, including ordinary social media users, as well as bots and trolls. What then, are the implications of this for representation of people’s views and how might democratic outcomes be influenced by such developments? This project investigates the influence of social media posts on perceptions of public opinion for ordinary users (of Twitter and YouTube), journalists, and readers of online news.

7. Misinformation on Private Social Media

Primary Supervisor: Professor Andrew Chadwick
Secondary Supervisor: Profesor Cristian Vaccari

This Leverhulme Trust funded PhD studentship, part of the project Undertanding the Everyday Sharing of Misinformation on Private Social Media, was warded to Ed Holmes in April 2021.

Partner Research Projects at Loughborough University

The Illiberal Turn? News Consumption, Polarization and Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe

At a key point in time when Central and Eastern Europe is witnessing the rise of populist leaders, resurgence of illiberal nationalism, and a shift towards authoritarian forms of government, this ESRC-funded project will carry out a comparative analysis of the relationship between news consumption, democratic attitudes and political behaviour in four CEE countries – Poland, Czechia, Hungary and Serbia.

Scheduled to run from May 2019 until November 2021, the project will be using a novel multi-method analytical framework that combines survey data, digital tracking of media consumption, as well as media diaries and qualitative interviews with audiences.

The project is co-led by Dr Václav Štětka (Principal Investigator) and Professor Sabina Mihelj (Co-Investigator) in the Department of Communication and Media at Loughborough. Read more about The Illiberal Turn? at the project's website.