Drivers of Digital Discord: How news media and social media drive online discourse – and pathways for change


The digital landscape is one of the strongest influencers of public opinion today. What we learn online can shape our beliefs, ideals and actions. With misinformation on the rise, false and misleading narratives have the ability to compromise our digital information ecosystems and fuel debate that blurs the lines between news and opinion.

In this report we examine cases of digital discord found on top social media platforms from influential news organisations in the US and UK. We set out four ideals of a healthy information environment and explore how digitalisation and journalism are interacting to challenge these ideals, profiling three case studies that demonstrate where we’re going wrong in this space.

Critically, we introduce the policy reforms needed to safeguard against online harms; rebuild the relationship between audiences, news producers and platforms; and future-proof our digital environments for a fast-approaching AI revolution.

All content and editorial decisions were made exclusively by Demos throughout research and report development. The independent research was supported by The Archewell Foundation.