Contemporary communication requires both a supply of content and a digital information infrastructure. Modern campaigns of misinformation are especially dependent on that back-end infrastructure for tracking and targeting a sympathetic audience and generating revenue that can sustain the campaign financially—if not enable profiteering. However, little is known about the political economy of misinformation, particularly those campaigns spreading misleading or harmful content about public health guidelines and vaccination programs. To understand the political economy of health misinformation, we analyze the content and infrastructure networks of 59 groups involved in communicating misinformation about vaccination programs. With a unique collection of tracker and communication infrastructure data, we demonstrate how the political economy of misinformation depends on platform monetization infrastructures. We offer a theory of communication resource mobilization that advances understanding of the communicative context, organizational interactions, and political outcomes of misinformation production.
Herasimenka, A., Au, Y., George, A., Joynes-Burgess, K., Knuutila, A., Bright, J., & Howard, P. N. (2022). The political economy of digital profiteering: Communication resource mobilization by anti-vaccination actors. Journal of Communication. https://doi.org/10.1093/joc/jqac043 (IF 8.609)