Disinformation and Democracy Reading List

Barack Obama
2 min readApr 20, 2022

Tomorrow, I’m heading to Stanford to deliver a speech about changes in the way we create and consume information, and the very real threat it poses to democracy. I’ve been reading up on this issue, sitting down with academics, researchers, industry leaders and former regulators, and listening to young leaders who are working to make progress.

Below is some of what I’ve read that offers useful context, solutions we can learn from, and interesting perspectives. Check it out, and then tune in to the speech on Thursday at 3:15pm ET / 12:15pm PT.

This report from the Aspen Institute offers an in-depth investigation into the chain reaction of harm caused by bad information.

Commission on Information Disorder Final Report via The Aspen Institute

A breakdown of how misinformation spreads and actionable steps platforms can take to stop it.

How to Stop Misinformation Before It Gets Shared via Wired

A look back at the events over the past ten years to help us understand how we got here.

Why the past 10 years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid via The Atlantic

Here’s a good example about how social media companies can respond to disinformation when they want to.

Pinterest bans all climate change misinformation on its platform via Tech Crunch

The fight against disinformation can feel overwhelming, but there is reason for hope. This op-ed offers ideas on how we can become a more “disinformation resistant public.”

Fighting Disinformation Can Feel Like a Lost Cause. It Isn’t. via The New York Times

You may have come across this viral parallel-parking spot on your feed — this article breaks down how anonymous mobs can flourish online.

The Parallel-Parking Job That Ignited the Internet via Curbed

When people are exposed to different kinds of information, they can process it differently. This report by David Broockman and Joshua Kalla backs up what I’ve felt and seen and gives me faith that how we share information and argue about information can bring out our better angels.

The manifold effects of partisan media on viewers’ beliefs and attitudes: A field experiment with Fox News viewers

This self-appointed board is an encouraging example of what people across the country — and all over the world — are doing to try to figure out how to respond to the challenges we’re facing.

The Ad-Hoc Group of Activists and Academics Convening a “Real Facebook Oversight Board” via The New Yorker

This report from the Brennan Center offers an important look specifically at disinformation and voter suppression.

Digital Disinformation and Vote Suppression Report via Brennan Center

Here’s a story that shines a light on the intentional revenue models that are hurting local news and the consequences.

A Secretive Hedge Fund Is Gutting Newsrooms via The Atlantic