Back to main site


    Module 8: ‘False News’, Misinformation and Propaganda

    The phenomenon of false news and misinformation(1) has increased exponentially in recent times with the advent of the internet and social media platforms. While manipulating and distorting information has been squarely part of the historical record for many years, the weaponisation of information in the 21st century is occurring on an unprecedented scale, and requires urgent and effective responses.(2) This module focuses on ‘false news’, misinformation and propaganda and provides guidance on media and information literacy (MIL) strategies and campaigns(3) which may assist with mitigating misinformation while ensuring that the right to freedom of expression is not violated.

    For the purposes of this module, the terms “misinformation” is used broadly and, unless otherwise specified, includes reference to disinformation and mal-information. The term ‘false news’ is not preferred unless referring to legal provisions regulating such, for the reason that the concept of ‘news’ should not be conflated with false information.


    1. For more on this topic see Media Defence “Training Manual on Digital Rights and Freedom of expression Online: Litigating digital rights and online freedom of expression in East, West and Southern Africa (accessible at:  For further information see First Draft, ‘Understanding and addressing the disinformation ecosystem’ (2017) (accessible at: Back
    2. UNESCO, ‘Journalism, ‘Fake News’ and Disinformation: Handbook for Journalism Education and Training (2018) (UNESCO Handbook) at page 15 (accessible at: Back