I’ve written quite a bit about misinformation and disinformation in online, social spaces.
Misinformation is “false information that is spread, regardless of whether there is intent to mislead. Misinformation is often considered to be unintentional sharing. When people spread misinformation, they often believe the information they are sharing.
Disinformation is “deliberately misleading or biased information; manipulated narrative or facts; propaganda. Disinformation is considered to be the intentional creation or sharing of false or misleading information. Disinformation is often shared with the goal of misleading others.
The challenge in identifying one from the other rests in the purpose of intent of the sender.
Viewing information through the lens of fake news doesn’t describe the complexity of the different types of misinformation (the inadvertent sharing of false information) and disinformation (the deliberate creation and sharing of information known to be false).
As Claire Wardle details in First Draft News, we need to understand the entire information ecosystem and the systematic campaigns that exist.
This work began in 2016 as Wardle examined the different types of information that circulated during the 2016 US elections and were clarified in 2017.
Wardle suggests there are seven distinct types of problematic content that sit within our information ecosystem. They sit on a scale, one that loosely measures the intent to deceive.
We need to ask questions about why this type of content is created and shared. It is most likely a result of money, power, and a certain amount of human nature.
When organized in a system, it quickly shuts down the reader and they simply give up. The end result is that citizens do not trust what they read. They quickly head back to the safety of their pre-existing beliefs and misconceptions.
This also is a means to convince or control portions of the population. When humans are angry and fearful, their critical thinking skills diminish and they’ll look for simple answers.