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Comunicar Journal 72: The disinformation society: The impact of fake news on the public sphere (Vol. 30 - 2022)

Unraveling disinformation: Notions and discourses from the Spanish population


Lidia Valera-Ordaz

Marina Requena-i-Mora

Dafne Calvo

Guillermo López-García


Disinformation has become a core concept in communications research, related to media, technological and political phenomena that complexify its definition and diagnosis. Although its approach has been mainly quantitative, focus groups have also been used to understand the perception of the audience of this particular issue. This research is part of this second group of studies, and attempts to investigate the notions and discourses on disinformation in the case of Spain. For this purpose, seven discussion groups were conducted, with a structural sample constructed according to employment situation, ideology and age. The results show a perception of the communicative ecosystem structured in two chronological poles, which contrasts a past of reduced information supply – associated with traditional media – with a current informational environment where there is more media diversity, but also less trust in them. The groups point to the overabundance of information and associated disinformation with decontextualisation, low-quality journalism and the economic and political interests of different actors. Discourses outline a scenario of decline in journalism and the public sphere, which is perceived as polarised and emotional. Disinformation is therefore perceived as a multidimensional phenomenon that is associated with issues of major democratic transcendence rather than merely sending hoaxes through the Internet.


Disinformation, communicative ecosystem, focus groups, discourse analysis, media, social media