November 21, 2023 | Irish Times

The Irish mis- and disinformation ecosystem has grown and evolved since the pandemic

ISD’s recent reports ‘Uisce Faoi Thalamh: An Investigation into the Online Mis- and Disinformation Ecosystem in Ireland’ were featured in the Irish Times.

These reports map out the actors, narratives and platforms across the misinformation, disinformation and conspiracy theories ecosystem in Ireland, and analyses how they have evolved since the COVID-19 pandemic. ISD analysed almost 13.2 million posts from 1,640 accounts across 12 online platforms between January 2020 and April 2023.

The Irish Times features the main findings of these reports and explains how the mis- and disinformation ecosystem in Ireland has evolved. During the COVID-19 pandemic, a wide range of right-wing extremists, anti-vaccine campaigners and new-age spiritualists in Ireland coalesced around conspiracy theories relating to the pandemic. However, their ties “didn’t disappear when the pandemic was declared over,” said ISD’s Senior Analyst and co-author of the reports, Aoife Gallagher.

Instead, these actors shifted their focus to target refugees and asylum seekers, and the LGBTQ+ community. Although the activity within the ecosystem in Ireland is growing across all platforms, the reports found that a small number of Irish accounts were responsible for an outsized proportion of activity.

“Of the accounts analysed, the top 50 most prolific accounts were responsible for over 35 percent of the total content, and the top 10 for over 14 percent of the activity,” the report says.

The investigation analysed how the Irish mis- and disinformation ecosystem discussed nine topics, including the Russia-Ukraine war, conspiracy theories, LGBTQ+ topics, climate, conversations related to 5G, and ethnonationalism.

The reports also featured on RTÉ, the Irish Examiner, the Irish Independent, and the Journal.

The Summary report, the Platforms report and the Topics report are all available on our website.