Rhetoric of parliamentary disinformation on Twitter
Keywords:Disinformation, Twitter, MPs, political communication, COVID-19, social minorities
Democracy is based on individuals’ ability to give their opinions freely. To do this, they must have access to a multitude of reliable information sources, and this greatly depends on the characteristics of their media environments. Today, one of the main issues individuals face is the significant amount of disinformation circulating through social networks. This study focuses on parliamentary disinformation. It examines how parliamentarians contribute to generating information disorder in the digital public space. Through an exploratory content analysis ? a descriptive content analysis of 2,307 messages posted on Twitter accounts of parliamentary spokespeople and representatives of the main list of each political party in the Spanish Lower House of Parliament ? we explore disinformation rhetoric. The results allow us to conclude that, while the volume of messages shared by parliamentarians on issues susceptible to disinformation is relatively low (14% of tweets), both the themes of the tweets (COVID-19, sex-based violence, migrants or LGBTI), as well as their tone and argumentative and discursive lines, contribute to generating distrust through institutional criticism or their peers. The study deepens current knowledge of the disinformation generated by political elites, key agents of the construction of polarising narratives.