The project was started in Spring 2023. Access to a database we created to amass Twitter posts about the Arctic region was granted to researchers, joining the project. This data allowed researchers, especially Gabriella Gricius and Isabelle Caron, to refine their theoretical frameworks and explore the dataset to generate analytical insights.
A session was proposed in May 2023 for the Arctic Circle Assembly, scheduled to take place in October 2023. The proposal was accepted and the session was held on October 21 2023. Four panelists participated: Mathieu Landriault (École nationale d’administration publique), Jean-François Savard (École nationale d’administration publique), Isabelle Caron (Dalhousie University) and Gabriella Gricius (Colorado State University).
The presentation by Isabelle Caron provided a theoretical framework to understand the motivations behind individuals spreading disinformation. While deep-seated and secondary beliefs provide an impetus to be active online, access to social, economic and political resources provide tools for users to disseminate false information.
Jean-François Savard analysed if the prevalence of disinformation about Indigenous languages. He found that prevalence was low on X, with most users promoting these languages and events related to this issue. A handful of users accounted for most of the messages posted and users were active reacting and replying to other users: this observation pointed to a dynamic and active community sharing information with one another. He warned however that he only studied one platform and that prevalence is likely higher if other platforms are concerned, especially Facebook.
Gabriella Gricius for her part studied how Arctic insecurity was defined on X. Using a dictionary related to insecurity, she was able to track the prevalence and nature of Arctic threats or risks described by X users since January 2020. She concluded that the Arctic insecurity discussion on X was one driven by environmental fears/threats more than by any other concerns (military for example). More messages were typically posted when environmental fears or threats would arise, mostly related to climate change: heat waves in the Arctic for example caused increased attention. Climate activists were particularly active on X and talked about the Arctic as part of their overall campaign to fight global warming.
As a result of this session, two papers will be finalized by the researchers and be added to two special issues in peer-reviewed publications. The first special issue will be published in Polar Geography, with articles to be submitted by December 2023. The other one will be published in The Northern Review and the article will be submitted by January 2024.
- The spread of disinformation is both motivated by deep-rooted beliefs and access to resources (both material and social);
- Disinformation is relatively low about Indigenous languages, while most of the coverage on social media is positive on this topic;
- Attention devoted to the Arctic region on X (formerly Twitter) does not follow salient events in the real world such as Arctic council meetings and climate change reports/summits. Intense coverage is mostly driven by climate activists referring to the Arctic to defend their cause.
Date and Location:
19–22 October 2023 I Reykjavik, Iceland
IASC Working Group funding the Project:
Mathieu Landriault (École nationale d'administration publique, Canada)
Year funded by IASC