Browse Understanding Disinformation Resources

 

The Myth of Online Misinformation: Our moral panic plays into the hands of Big Tech

Review of two similar articles written by Jay Caspian Kang and Mathew Yglesias both consider the possibility that “misinformation” and “disinformation” are misleading frameworks for making sense of the world today. Indeed, Yglesias argues that the “misinformation panic could, over time, make discerning the actual truth harder”. This is because “misinformation” talk seems to lead inexorably to the suppression and censoring of dissent.

 

How do you solve a problem like misinformation?

Understanding key distinctions between misinformation/disinformation, speech/action, and mistaken belief/conviction provides an opportunity to expand research and policy toward more constructive online communication.

 

The perils of legally defining disinformation

EU policy considers disinformation to be harmful content, rather than illegal content. However, EU member states have recently been making disinformation illegal. This article discusses the definitions that form the basis of EU disinformation policy and analyses national legislation in EU member states applicable to the definitions of disinformation, in light of freedom of expression and the proposed Digital Services Act. The article discusses the perils of defining disinformation in EU legislation and including provisions on online platforms being required to remove illegal content, which may end up being applicable to overbroad national laws criminalising false news and false information.

 

“Misinformation” vs. “Disinformation”: Get Informed On The Difference

Now more than ever, we are seeing the spread of two forms of wrong information: misinformation and disinformation. These two words, so often used interchangeably, are merely one letter apart. But behind that one letter hides the critical distinction between these confusable words: intent. Let’s get the facts on misinformation vs. disinformation.

 

Media Literacy for Citizenship: Infographic: Beyond Fake News – 10 Types of Misleading News – Seventeen Languages

Beyond Fake News infographic identifies the 10 types of potentially misleading news. It was created to be used in class with real-world examples to spark classroom debate and reflection on the ways that media is constructed.

The term ‘fake news’ is not in the title of the infographic as, ironically, the term itself is a misleading simplification. Apart from the fact that the term has been co-opted to attack and silence mainstream media, the suggestion that there are simply two types of news; real and fake, doesn’t leave much room for nuance.

Below this article, you will find a pdf version of the infographic as well as a dropdown list containing some resources for teaching the 10 Types of Misleading News.

 

Wikipedia: Disinformation

Disinformation is a subset of propaganda and is false information that is spread deliberately to deceive. It is sometimes confused with misinformation, which is false information but is not deliberate.

 

Fake News, Big Lies: How Did We Get Here and Where Are We Going?

IPR faculty experts have generated a noteworthy body of research across different disciplines that explores what drives people to believe in untruths—and how the U.S. may be especially susceptible to disinformation. They also examine how misinformation and disinformation have affected the media, our politics, and even our health.

 

The Way We Discuss “Disinformation” Is Toxic

As a media Ph.D. student, I’ve studied the literature surrounding terms like misinformation, disinformation, fake news, and propaganda in some detail. Despite the terms’ complexities and heavy connotations, they’ve become buzzwords, often thrown around with little justification. The practice can have serious consequences for those accused of spreading “disinformation” and the larger media environment, which can range from Twitter suspensions to straining the general public’s ability to follow or understand events as they happen.

With the Disinformation Governance Board on pause, it’s time to reconsider the toxic information and discourse environments—and impact such environments have had on public discourse—that these terms have contributed to.

 

The unbearable weight of defining disinformation and misinformation on the internet

The past has been momentous for regulation of internet disinformation and misinformation (D&M): Elon Musk agreed to purchase Twitter largely to change its approach to D&M; the U.S. government announced — and then suspended — a Disinformation Governance Board to oversee some D&M; the European Union completed historic, new internet laws, some of which regulate D&M; and former President Obama changed his longstanding hands-off approach and called for government regulation of D&M.

 

Millions believe in conspiracy theories in Canada

Bruce Anderson, David Coletto
Abacus Data. June 12, 2022. 

These findings are based on a nationwide surveying among 1500 Canadians. The focus of the survey was on the levels of trust people have in institutional sources of information, and belief in conspiracy theories. This report is the second in a series called “Trust & Facts: What Canadians Believe”

 

Misinformation and Disinformation

American Psychological Association. July 2022.

The spread of misinformation and disinformation has affected our ability to improve public health, address climate change, maintain a stable democracy, and more. By providing valuable insight into how and why we are likely to believe misinformation and disinformation, psychological science can inform how we protect ourselves against its ill effects.

This website contains webinars and presentations around disinformation, fake news, conspiracy theories and additional resources.

 

Disinformation

Atlantic Council. July 2022.

The rise of the internet and online social networks has altered the scope and scale at which people access, consume, and communicate information. But the same technologies that have democratized access to information has also enabled malicious actors who seek to undermine our democratic values and processes. Disinformation is false or misleading information spread with the intention to deceive. It’s distinct from misinformation, which is the unintentional spread of false information. When left unchecked, disinformation has the potential to sow confusion in public dialogue, exacerbate political polarization, and promote distrust in our political systems and democratic institutions.

 

Fake news — what makes it so fascinating to the brain?

Federation of European Neuroscience Societies July 7, 2022.

Studies have shown that unexpected information may be processed in a different way than information that we have already become familiar with. Novelty itself has been linked to motivation since dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with anticipation and reward, increases when we encounter novelty and salience. The tendency of fake news to involve attention-grabbing or shocking propositions is part of its appeal and what allows it to spread so quickly.

 

Debunking Viral Claims

FactCheck. August 2022.

FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media network. We provide several resources for readers: a guide on how to flag suspicious stories on Facebook and a list of websites that have carried false or satirical articles, as well as a video and story on how to spot false stories.

 

#ConsiderThis – Disinformation: Weaponizing Social Media

Twitter (video clip). August 11, 2022.

Dr Ross Tapsell speaks on Cybertroopers: Disinformation on the Home Front

 

At the Royster Global Conference, doctoral students focus on mis- and disinformation

UNC-Chapel Hill. Elizabeth Poindexter. August 22, 2022.

The sixth annual Royster Global Conference — the first held in person in two years — focused on the theme of mis- and disinformation, or how information spreads in a rapidly, increasingly global, communications landscape.

 

DEFINITIONS

Disinformation is a Regional Economic Problem

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. Emmanuel A. San Andres. October 25, 2022

Information disorder is a catch-all phrase for the spread of false information which may cause negative societal and even economic harm—whether or not the harm was the intent of the creators and spreaders. It can be divvied into three categories: misinformation, or the sharing of falsity but with no intent to harm anyone; disinformation or the sharing of false information with intent to do harm; and malinformation, or the repurposing or recontextualization of facts, also with harmful intent. All three are reliant on how fast stories can be spread online to dangerous effect.

 

How to Outsmart Election Disinformation

ProPublica. Karim & Cynthia Gordy Giwa. October 21, 2022.

It’s time to talk about misinformation. You already know it’s all around us, but understanding how to spot it and defend against it is one of the most important parts of being an informed and active voter.

 

How to Report Election Misinformation and Disinformation Online

Asian Americans Advancing Justice. October 28, 2022.

Mis- and disinformation about elections is harmful to our democracy. If you see content online about elections that could suppress or mislead voters, you can report it. Read through our easily shareable cheat sheet to learn how to report disinformation on different platforms, dos and don'ts of reporting disinfo, and key definitions.

 

THE American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. October 25, 2022

THE American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. October 25, 2022

Volume/Issue:
Volume 103: Issue 4

Page(s):
1621–1629

The term infodemic, defined as “an overabundance of information—some accurate and some not—that makes it hard for people to find trustworthy sources and reliable guidance when they need it,” was coined to categorize some of the common features of rumours, stigma, and conspiracy theories during public health emergencies.1 During the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2019, misinformation was linked to violence, mistrust, social disturbances, and targeted attacks on healthcare providers.2 During the SARS outbreak in China in 2002–2003, fear and anxiety about contracting the disease caused social stigma against Asian people.3 Stigmatized persons may delay seeking medical care, potentially remaining undetected, but contributing to the expansion of the epidemic via community transmission.4,5 The UN secretary general identified COVID-19–related rumours as a global enemy.6 Globally, there have been reports of rumours, stigma, and conspiracy theories connected to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

 

The Truth in Fake News: How Disinformation Laws Are Reframing the Concepts of Truth and Accuracy on Digital Platforms

BRILL: In European Convention on Human Rights Law Review. Paolo Cavaliere. October 11, 2022

The European Union’s (EU) strategy to address the spread of disinformation, and most notably the Code of Practice on Disinformation and the forthcoming Digital Services Act, tasks digital platforms with a range of actions to minimize the distribution of issue-based and political adverts that are verifiable false or misleading. This article discusses the implications of the EU’s approach with a focus on its categorical approach, specifically what it means to conceptualize disinformation as a form of advertisement and by what standards digital platforms are expected to assess the truthful or misleading nature of the content that they distribute because of this categorization. The analysis will show how the emerging EU anti-disinformation framework marks a departure from the European Court of Human Rights consolidated standards of review for public interest and commercial speech and the tests utilized to assess their accuracy.

 

Manufacturing consensus and the democratization of propaganda and disinformation

Texas Public Radio. Jeerry Clayton. October 2, 2022

Since the invention of social media, governments, militaries and political parties have worked to control narratives and sway public opinion. Now, in a country facing another national election, just about anyone can do it.

TPR’s Jerry Clayton recently spoke with Sam Woolley, an assistant professor in the School of Journalism and head of the Propaganda Research Lab at the University of Texas at Austin. He's the author of an upcoming book on the subject called Manufacturing Consensus: Understanding Propaganda in the Era of Automation and Anonymity. The book is set for release in January of 2023