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Political Science Speaker Series: Natalia Bueno

Natalia Bueno, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Emory University, will present research on the topic of "(De)Mobilizing Effects of Misinformation: Evidence from Brazil."


Misinformation is a growing concern among the public and policymakers. Yet we still lack a clear understanding of its political effects. As misinformation often contains politically motivated content that sends unambiguous signals in favor of or against a group, it may increase the salience of political identities and make individuals more oriented toward partisan goals. Consequently, misinformation may be effective at mobilizing voters. We assess this argument using novel descriptive and experimental data from Brazil. We find that, while misinformation is connected to online and offline engagement, this relationship does not follow the patterns anticipated by conventional wisdom. First, we analyze 4.1 million posts of Brazilian politicians across different social media platforms and observe that posts with misinformation indeed generate more positive engagement from their social media audiences. However, two online survey experiments show that, when misinformation reaches the general public, it primarily lowers willingness to participate in political activities that support the target group of the posts. All in all, misinformation may be more likely associated with silencing than with raising voices in public debates and elections.