Negationist rhetoric and post-truth figures. Transversal research in social media in the COVID-19 era




Negationism, Conspiracy theories, Figurative reasoning, Infodemic, Semiotics


The research hypothesis of this paper postulates the existence of dominant isotopies and images-symbols cross-cutting all conspiracy theories, independent from ideological or contextual specificity. Hence, to detect an ideal core of the semantic universe of conspiracy where the various conspiracist fringe converges, we assumed that the common denominator could be traced in the figurative reasoning, which entails sharing the same images to explain current events. The best field to validate our hypothesis is the visual representation of the COVID-19 pandemic circulating on social media. The corpus on which the analysis has been conducted covers the time of February 15, 2020, until December 15, 2021, and counts on thousands of online publications. Within the corpus were selected posts on COVID-19 and on the daily practices of the lockdown of March 2020 spread by the leading Italian newspapers, and through the social profiles of institutional figures and influencers, reported by WHO as crucial points of information dissemination, in parallel with the dis-information propagated on Facebook, Instagram, Telegram and Twitter by the Italian conspiracy factions.


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Biografia do Autor

Isabella Pezzini, Sapienza University of Rome

Full Professor of Semiotics at the Department of Communication and Social Research of Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy.

Bianca Terracciano, Sapienza University of Rome

Assistant professor and research fellow at the Department of Communication and Social Research of Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy.


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Como Citar

Pezzini, I., & Terracciano, B. (2022). Negationist rhetoric and post-truth figures. Transversal research in social media in the COVID-19 era. Estudos Semióticos, 18(2), 135-158.