Influencing the debate in the run-up to the 2016 Brexit referendum: a case-study on the Vote Leave campaign

Disinformation, misinformation and fake news are terms that are often used in the press in recent years. In the aftermath of the Brexit referendum in June 2016 and the Presidential election in the United States in November 2016, many governments dealt with the influence of fake news or disinformation in digital campaigning for elections and referenda. People’s opinion can be shaped by disinformation, misinformation, fake news and by the framing that is used to wrap the message. This thesis focusses on the Vote Leave campaign on Facebook in the run-up to the Brexit referendum. The Vote Leave campaign posted more than 200 advertisements on Facebook in the last weeks before the Brexit referendum. A parliamentary inquiry in the aftermath of the referendum made the list of advertisements available. Based on a case study of the Vote Leave campaign on Facebook, the question is answered how Vote Leave used Facebook to influence the debate in the run-up to the 2016 Brexit referendum.

 

Key words: Framing, Brexit referendum, Vote Leave, fake news, disinformation, misinformation

 

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