The Scary Reality of Misinformation and Disinformation are two of the most dangerous things in our world today, because they can contribute to the spread of infectious disease and undermine public safety with severe consequences. If you are thinking that this doesn’t apply to you, think again because the truth is that even if we don’t realize it, all of us are affected by it in one way or another, whether we believe it or not. This article looks at the scary reality of misinformation and disinformation and how we can fix the issue by recognizing it for what it really is and taking measures to protect ourselves against its effects.
What is Misinformation?
Misinformation is information that is false, inaccurate, or misleading. The prevalence of misinformation has increased with the rise to prominence of social media. Since anyone can share any information they want on social media without being required to verify it, misinformation can spread like wildfire. Moreover, when people read or listen to information online and are unable to tell whether it’s true or not, it’s difficult for them to determine what is actually accurate. For example, after a terrorist attack happened recently in France, there was conflicting news about the event circulating on Facebook: some posts said that more than 100 people died while others said less than 10 did.
What is Disinformation?
Misinformation and disinformation are false, deceptive information that is spread to intentionally mislead or misinform recipients. These can be done as a part of a deliberate campaign, or it may have been created by accident. It’s difficult to determine the exact origins of misinformation, but it is generally agreed that they are more likely to come from less-than-reputable sources. The ease with which misinformation can be spread via the internet has only made this problem worse. Some people are unaware that what they’re sharing on social media could be incorrect or misleading; for others, their intent is to deceive. A study found that over half of all millennial use Facebook as their main source for news.
How they are Different?
Misinformation is the act of providing false information, while disinformation is the act or process of giving false information. A common misconception is that misinformation and disinformation are one in the same. In fact, they are two different things with their own set of consequences. The term misinform doesn’t exist because it can be difficult to discern whether a person’s intention was to mislead or not. To understand the difference between these two words, one needs to think about where the misinformation came from. If the source for the information is unclear or unknown then it would be considered as misinformation.
When someone has intentions to spread false info with intent on misleading people then this would be considered as disinformation. Disinformation is often part of psychological warfare tactics used by some countries against others. It can also refer to the general population being fooled by those who want power over them, such as politicians and other high-ranking officials. Many times there will be a mixture of both types of disinformation depending on the goal being sought out by those doing it.
Challenges to combating Misinformation and Disinformation
The Scary Reality of Misinformation and Disinformation can be difficult to combat because it is difficult to know when it has been shared. The effects of misinformation are difficult to trace because the information is often not credible, so the only way to know for sure that someone has been misled would be if they publicly state that they have been. For example, this could happen if a celebrity shares a story about something that supposedly happened to them in their childhood but then later says it never happened.
Once one person retracts or deletes an account, it becomes clear that the misinformation was inaccurate and people are less likely to believe other claims from that individual. In addition, more than 50% of the population relies on social media to get news from. However, research shows that just 12% of people feel confident making decisions on what news sources are reliable.
Finally, companies with stock prices will try to influence public opinion by posting fake stories about important topics or issues in order to make their company seem favorable.
It’s important for individuals with access to large audiences such as celebrities and politicians share accurate information instead of spreading false information. Individuals should take time to determine which news outlets provide quality information, and whether the site’s content aligns with your own personal beliefs. If you’re not sure about a particular piece of content, you should do some additional research before believing it.
Effects on Society
The Scary Reality of Misinformation and Disinformation have been able to spread like wildfire in today’s society with the fast paced speed of information. It is becoming more difficult to differentiate between the two, especially with all the platforms that are available. All it takes is one person who doesn’t care if they’re spreading misinformation or disinformation, but they could seriously harm a group or an individual. An example would be when someone posts something on social media that isn’t true. For example, people believed that Kyrie Irving said he wanted to leave Cleveland because he hated LeBron James.
However, it was later found out that Kyrie had actually said he wanted to find out what it felt like not having LeBron around for once after being teammates for three seasons. The misinformed shared their thoughts as if it were factual, causing serious damage to Kyrie’s reputation as well as LeBron’s. The old saying a lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth gets its boots on has never been truer than now.
Ways to avoid being a victim of both Misinformation and Disinformation
The Scary Reality of Misinformation and Disinformation are everywhere, but there is a way to avoid them. When receiving a piece of information, stop for a moment and ask yourself why? This information is being shared with me. Is it from a credible source? Do I know the credentials of the person giving me this information? What are their motivations? Have they been paid or rewarded to share this information? Why am I receiving this information now? Are these facts true or false? Do the sources have any biases or agendas that would distort the truth? These questions can help one recognize if they are reading misinformation or disinformation.
Checking out more than one media outlet on a topic will also help because different outlets may be reporting different information, meaning only some of what you hear might be accurate. And lastly, checking your beliefs about the topic against other sources to see if those beliefs line up might show which side is most likely telling the truth. If we want to avoid believing fake news, then we must remember that all information has bias, but not all bias is bad. If an individual knows what their bias is going into a conversation, they are less likely to take everything said as fact.
We cannot turn a blind eye to the problem at hand. We have to be active participants in our own communities, fighting against misinformation and disinformation, standing up for truth and facts. The way we use technology has changed the world around us; it is time to change how we use technology for the better. I believe that we need new frameworks on what social media should look like: one that prioritizes quality over quantity, and promotes more healthy interactions online. One that encourages dialogue between people with different opinions, not just shouting matches between those who share the same ideology.
One where people want to help each other instead of exploits them. There’s so much power in the ability to speak out and share your voice with the world. It is my hope that this post will encourage you, as well as others, to start using your voices for good against all forms of misinformation and disinformation.