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START researcher appears in documentary on disinformation

START Senior Researcher Dr. Michael Jensen has lent his expertise as the START Radicalization and Disengagement (RaD) team lead for a documentary on disinformation.

Dis/Informed is a production from Metrotone Media directors Katharina Viken and Dr. Charles Kriel, which explores those who are vulnerable to disinformation and conspiracy theories, and why such beliefs often lead to violent criminal acts.

“It’s really important to understand that individuals don’t join extremist groups, they don’t join radical religious movements, they don’t join cults, they don’t adopt conspiracy theories because they think it will ruin their lives,” Jensen said. “They do it because they think these groups and movements have tapped into something that is really good, and that by helping they can play a meaningful role in making the world a better place.”

The documentary also explored the relationship between anti-vaccination conspiracy theories and the QAnon movement, especially within women’s online spaces during the pandemic.

“A number of women have been particularly active in the QAnon movement,” Jensen said. “In most extremist groups, usually less than 5% of members or participants are females.”

Interested viewers can see the film on PBS America or ZDF, or sign up to attend a future screening.