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Misinformation - Get the Facts

A Quick Reference Guide on Information Consumption; Tools to Encourage Individual Agency

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Keyword Search Ideas

Searching for more information? See the Scholarly Resources page, or try a few of the keywords in different combinations, in different resources to pull a variety of information: 

Mistrust, Critical race theory, Disinformation, Elections, Fraud, Identity, Power, Propaganda, Social Media, Social Networks, Misinformation, Fake News, Impact, Influence, Social Truth, Post-Truth, Behavior, News Literacy, Experts, Emotions, Legitimized, Conspiracy Theories, Intent, Bias

Real World Examples

Disinformation via the Columbian Chemicals Plant Hoax 

Publicity Campaign via Exxon Mobil "Advertorials" in NYT

Propaganda via Pizzagate in NYT

For more related topics, check out  

Doorway into Deepfakes

Deepfakes: hyper realistic, fake audio or video created using machine learning that is nearly impossible to detect  

Doorway into Hoaxes

Hoaxes: to trick into believing or accepting as genuine something false and often preposterous

Academic Grievance Studies and the Corruption of Scholarship: Three people wrote 20 papers and submitted them, under false names, as part of year-long hoax campaign targeting fields like gender studies. 


So we are all on the same page, let's share the same definition of terms used throughout the discussion:

  • Disinformation -- false information that is deliberately created or disseminated with the express purpose to cause harm. Producers of disinformation typically have political, financial, psychological, or social motivations. 

  • Deep Fakes -- term currently being used to describe fabricated media produced using artificial intelligence. By synthesizing different elements of existing video or audio file, AI enables relatively easy methods for creating "new" content, in which individuals appear to speak words and perform actions, which are not based on reality. 

  • Fact-Checking -- the process of determining the truthfulness and accuracy of official, published information such as politicians' statements and news reports. 

  • Hoax-- a deliberate deception that plays on people's willingness to believe. Hoaxes depend, at least initially, on some people take them at face value. Often, hoaxes are a means of challenging authority, custom, or the status quo. 

  • Malinformation -- genuine information that is shared to cause harm. This includes private or revealing information that is spread to harm a person or reputation. 

  • Misinformation -- information that is false, but not intended to cause harm. For example, individuals who don't know a piece of information is false may spread it on social media in an attempt to be helpful. 

  • Propaganda -- true or false information spread to persuade an audience, but often has a political connotation and is often connect to information produced by governments. 

Sources: Lexicon of Lies, Information Disorder: The Essential Glossary 


Additional resources that focus on clarification of definitions and identification of misinformation:

The Misinformation Age: How False Beliefs Spread

Why should we care about having true beliefs? And why do demonstrably false beliefs persist and spread despite consequences for the people who hold them?

Web of Deceit; Misinformation and Manipulation in the Age of Social Media

An invaluable guide to safe internet usage, this resource explains the importance of guarding privacy and identity online, spotting misinformation, avoiding charity scams, and evaluating websites.

Misinformation and Mass Audiences

Lies and inaccurate information are as old as humanity, but never before have they been so easy to spread. The first comprehensive social science volume exploring the prevalence and consequences of, and remedies for, misinformation as a mass communication phenomenon, Misinformation and Mass Audiences will be a crucial resource for students and faculty researching misinformation, policymakers grappling with questions of regulation and prevention, and anyone concerned about this troubling, yet perhaps unavoidable, dimension of current media systems.

Conspiracy and Populism; The Politics of Misinformation

Rapid rise of populist political parties around Europe and across the Atlantic in the early new millennium coincided with the simultaneous increased spread of conspiracy theories.

Lie machines : how to save democracy from troll armies, deceitful robots, junk news operations, and political operatives

Lie Machines is full of riveting behind-the-scenes stories from the world's biggest and most damagingly successful misinformation initiatives--including those used in Brexit and U.S. elections. Howard not only shows how these campaigns evolved from older propaganda operations but also exposes their new powers, gives us insight into their effectiveness, and explains how to shut them down.

Getting It Wrong

Confronts and dismantles prominent media-driven myths, describing how they can feed stereotypes, distort understanding about the news media, and deflect blame from policymakers.

Misinformation and Fake News in Education

This book provides recent examples of how misinformation and disinformation manifest in the field of education and remedies.

Doorway into Publicity and Propaganda

Publicity: information with news value issued as a means of gaining public attention or support, an act or device designed to attract public interest, the dissemination of information or promotional material.

Propaganda: the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person, ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one's cause or to damage an opposing cause.

Familiarity bias is our tendency to overvalue things we already know. When faced with making choices, we often revert to previous behaviors, knowledge, or mindsets. Add in a little publicity and propaganda and our subconscious tends to choose the idea or theme we feel most comfortable with. Sensationalizing an event, action and/or news story, may also use publicity and propaganda in hopes to encourage people to make a biased judgement regarding what they've viewed or read.