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Misinformation - Get the Facts

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


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.

Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism

Through an analysis of textual and media searches as well as extensive research on paid online advertising, Noble exposes a culture of racism and sexism in the way discoverability is created online.

Misinformation and Fake News in Education

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

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.

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.

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.