Using the Life Cycle of Media Manipulation, each case study features a chronological description of a media manipulation event, which is filtered along specific variables such as tactics, targets, mitigation, outcomes, and keywords.
How did a TikTok trend that never existed alarm schools and teachers across the United States? This case documents how viral misinformation spread by concerned adults and amplified by the press became a full-fledged media manipulation campaign.
When a Trump ally claimed migrants were bringing Ebola into the US, fears of a deadly infectious disease furthered his crowdfunded quest to build a border wall with Mexico and fueled anti-immigrant sentiment. The 2019 Ebola rumor wasn't true, but that didn't stop it spreading in the far-right media ecosystem from Texas across the nation.
After military conflict broke out in the Tigray region of Ethiopia in November, 2020, two contesting narratives designed to influence international understanding of the conflict emerged, playing out largely on Twitter. Based on several months of data collection and mixed methods research, we trace the tactics of the two key online communities participating in these outward-facing advocacy campaigns: the Ethiopian government and its supporters, and Tigrayan activists and their supporters.
During the Oregon wildfires of September 2020, rumors spread locally and nationally that left wing activists had intentionally set the fires based on a series of misidentifications and inference by public officials. The rumor was amplified from partisan influencers on the far right, fake antifa Twitter accounts, anonymous trolling communities on 4chan, the QAnon conspiracy network, and late stage attention from President Trump.
Following the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput on June 14, 2020, allegations were circulated by his family and fans that his girlfriend, Rhea Chakraborty, had murdered him. Although his death was officially declared a suicide, this media spectacle not only increased confusion and distrust of the investigations but led to the arrest and harassment of Chakraborty.