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Alice E. Marwick1, Elizabeth Losh2, Maximilian Schlüter3, Annette Markham4, E. Brooke Phipps5
1University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; 2William and Mary; 3Department of Digital Design and Information Studies, School of Communication & Culture, Aarhus University, Denmark; 4Digital Ethnography Research Centre, RMIT University, Melbourne; 5University of Maryland
Disinformation, inaccurate information spread intentionally for profit, ideology, or harm is a major public issue and a significant object of study across disciplines However, much scholarship treats “disinformation” as an irritant without recognizing that it often harnesses metanarratives about inequality and identity, and disproportionately impacts marginalized communities. For example, counting how many “sockpuppet” accounts contribute to a Twitter hashtag reveals that they do not represent genuine opinions of unique individuals, but does not capture whether they advance cultural narratives about race and gender. Disinformation campaigns are also often mischaracterized as “information warfare” or “psychological operations” and reduced to military-style masculinized logics of conflict and dominance in which “threat” is framed as a matter of “cybersecurity." This leaves out complex dynamics of identity, intersectionality, affect, labor, and material infrastructures. Feminist theory, methods, and perspectives are particularly well suited to exploring such issues. This panel brings together scholars working at different edges of this nascent discipline to explore what disinformation studies can learn from feminist scholars in rhetoric, communication, and science and technology studies.