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Oregon Disinformation Index: February 2023 Update
Podcasts continue to surprise. And the heavy disinfo crowd likes to try new things.
Hey Folks! No significant changes to the structure of the Oregon Disinformation Index with this update. In early January, we slimmed down the data set and compressed the layout.
So for our February 2023 update, it’s just a simple data refresh.
But that doesn’t mean there are some really interesting insights.
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ODI February 2023 Insights
Three things of notice in the data, the first one of most importance:
1. Podcasts are a volatile channel for disinformation.
When you look at the trend columns across the index most of the time a fast rising disinfo channel shows a steady pattern of growth. Not podcasts. Their trend lines look like a grinning hockey player.
But why would disinformation trends be so volatile with podcasting? Honestly, not totally sure.
It could be that podcasts are produced at a slower pace than folks can post via social media. So one or two episodes from a podcast that publishes infrequently could be enough to simulate trends in popularity - when it’s really just a more drawn-out production and publication process. But, if that were true, you would expect to see similar volatility with Youtube - another medium that takes effort & resources to populate with content. But YouTube trends lines tend to be as steady as social media above.
Or it could be that folks who listen to podcasts are, by nature, looking for a more diverse array of sources and bounce around in terms of allegiance to different podcasters?
Genuinely hard to read, but worth keeping tabs on.
2. Former NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch is…back?
Her name (and digital media entities) used to be all over this data, but she shows up in bold red text a lot with this ODI update. Remember, bold red means the account was newly added to the current top 10. So I’m not sure if that’s something funky in the data, or if her rebounding popularity is tied to some actual trend in right-wing disinformation.
3. Newcomer to the heavy disinformation audience, Avi Yemini.
This one is interesting because it shows the power that Elon Musk has on the right-wing disinformation sphere. Yemini is a far-right Australian YouTuber who most recently seems to be a favorite of Musk, judging by recent Twitter exchanges. But anytime you see an Australian right-wing extremist trending with the heavy disinformation crowd in Oregon, it’s worth noting.
After some feedback from posting the ODI to Reddit…I actually got some good advice on how to improve this tool. Which is surprising because Reddit has a rep for being kind of a social cesspool. Nonetheless, I’m trying to figure out how to better measure “light” and “heavy” disinformation. The current methodology is functional and somewhat helpful, but could be better.
Monthly updating. Initially, I thought 2x a month would be a good pace for updating the ODI. But I think 1x a month will suffice. We won’t lose any data, and I think the insights will be a little more helpful with a longer pause between measuring trends.
Next update - mid-March 2023 . Thanks!
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