Collective intelligence and a deliberative democratic system rest on the shoulders of a public free access to unbiased and diverse information. Social media has become a source of news and an important factor in opinion-formation. However, social media is not a neutral terrain but can be a platform for political manipulation.

This project aims to understand the cognitive, socio-affective, and neurobiological factors impacting our judgement of and response to information.This can conclude to behavioural recommendations that empower us to protect ourselves from manipulation and disinformation, and a targeted design of interventions to prevent their spread and the effective allocation of resources to protect those most vulnerable.


Paper (aiming for Communication, Nature Human Behavior or similar)

Project Partners:

  • ETH Zurich (ETHZ), Elisabeth Stockinger
  • Fondazione Bruno Kessler (FBK), Riccardo Gallotti

Primary Contact: Elisabeth Stockinger, ETH Zurich

Results Description

Despite all efforts to mitigate mis- and disinformation, they continue to be a substantial problem. This project contributed to the literature base on mis- and disinformation about social media with an analysis of the interaction effects between temporal rhythms of disinformation and social media usage in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Specifically, consider how mis- and disinformation spread on Twitter varies throughout the day and whether there are individual differences in users' propensity to spread mis- and disinformation on Twitter based on the activity patterns.

We analysed a comprehensive dataset, examining the reliability of information relating the COVID-19 pandemic shared on Twitter. We clustered users into pseudo-chronotypes based on their activity patterns on Twitter throughout the day, identified times of waking and prolonged waking states per cluster as well as times of increased susceptibility.

We aggregated out results into a paper and submitted an extended abstract to the International Conference on Computational Social Science (, acceptance pending, and are in the process of preparing a paper for submission for a reputable journal.

Elisabeth Stockinger from ETHZ spent a 3-week mobility period at FBK in Trento, Italy, to work with the partner directly. She has continued the collaboration as a virtual visiting student.


We submitted an extended abstract to the International Conference on Computational Social Science (, acceptance pending.

Links to Tangible results

None yet.