Misinformation vs Disinformation vs Fake News: Knowing the Differences

Want to understand the difference between misinformation vs disinformation and fake news? Then you’re in the right place.

Staying informed has become increasingly challenging, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The information overload on social media and news outlets often makes it difficult to distinguish between truth and falsehood.

With the prevalence of misinformation, disinformation, and fake news, it’s critical to understand these terms and their impact on our ability to discern fact from fiction. Therefore, before engaging with any news article or social media report, it’s essential to refresh your knowledge of these concepts to stay informed.

Difference Between Misinformation vs Disinformation and Fake News

1. Misinformation is any false information that people spread while believing it to be true.

It’s a prevalent phenomenon that can occur when individuals fail to fact-check their sources before sharing information with their network of family and friends. Although unintentional, this behavior can lead to the spread of misinformation.

For example, sharing an unverified news article believing it to be factual could result in spreading misinformation without the person’s knowledge. Misinformation can also be misleading by implying a connection between unrelated claims, as in the case of suggesting a correlation between Joe Biden’s presidency and the number of coronavirus deaths in the US, even though no such relationship exists.

2. Disinformation refers to false information that people spread with the intention to deceive or manipulate the audience.

Unlike misinformation, which can result from an unintentional mistake, disinformation is created and shared deliberately to mislead others. Individuals or organizations that spread false facts knowingly are engaging in disinformation.

It’s important to distinguish between disinformation and misinformation, as the former is a deliberate attempt to deceive and manipulate while the latter is often a result of a mistake or lack of fact-checking. In summary, if someone creates and shares a false narrative intentionally, they are participating in disinformation.

3. Fake news is a type of false information that originates from news sources and is spread on a large scale, often through various platforms, with the intent to deceive the audience.

It encompasses both misinformation and disinformation, and its widespread dissemination poses a significant threat since it has the potential to reach a vast audience. Typically, fake news is spread through specific outlets known as “fake news organizations” or websites that deliberately create and distribute fabricated information. It’s essential to recognize that fake news is a distinct form of false information that is particularly hazardous due to its potential to mislead a broad audience.

SEE ALSO: How To Stop Being Manipulative: (16 Things You Should Do)

4. Satire refers to a form of excessive misinformation that is intentionally crafted to highlight a specific point.

Satirical and parody articles can blur the line between misinformation and disinformation since they often use false and exaggerated claims to emphasize their message. However, unlike disinformation, satire is not intended to deceive or manipulate the reader.

If someone shares a satire or parody article believing it to be true, they are spreading misinformation inadvertently. For example, an article that claims “COVID-19 Originated on Mars” is a satirical piece that is not meant to be taken seriously.

Sharing such content as factual information could lead to the spread of misinformation. In summary, satire articles can help raise awareness of various issues (1) by highlighting the absurdity of certain stereotypes, but it’s essential to understand their purpose to avoid spreading misinformation.

5. In the world of false information, navigating the internet can be challenging.

Fortunately, several excellent resources can help keep you informed and up-to-date on the facts. One way to clarify misinformation and disinformation is by utilizing fact-checking sites. By searching for a new claim on a fact-checking site, you can determine its accuracy and whether it is legitimate.

These sites employ professional journalists and experts who investigate and verify claims before publishing their findings. Fact-checking sites are useful tools for distinguishing fact from fiction and for staying well-informed in the age of misinformation and disinformation.

6. When visiting a website, it’s important to scan it to determine if it’s legitimate.

Look for an “about” page, which is typically found on reputable news organization websites. Take a moment to read the website description and look for any signs of bias, which can indicate that the website is not credible.

It’s also a good idea to check the staff photos and bios to ensure they are legitimate and not just stock photos used to make the website appear more credible. Additionally, check the website URL itself, as fake-news outlets may try to pass themselves off as official news sources by using similar URLs.

For example, a fake news site might use a URL like “cbsnews.com.co,” which is obviously fake and not affiliated with the real CBS news. If a website doesn’t have an “about” or “contact” page, it’s likely a fake-news site.

Another way to spot a fake news site is to save an image and perform a reverse search to see if it’s a stock photo. Finally, be aware of bias, which can be incorporated in many ways, including unnecessary writing that feeds on stereotypes and political agendas.

SEE ALSO: How To Deal With Manipulative People: Best 10 Strategies

7. Make sure to verify the publication date of the article.

Some fake news sources will reuse old headlines and repurpose them for current events. Check the date of the article and compare it with the dates of the sources it cites.

It’s amazing how far fake news can spread through this method. For example, a fake news article may report on the end of the world, but use an article from 2012 about the end of the Mayan calendar as its source.

8. Verify the credentials of the author and the sources they use.

Although it may appear to be an additional and frustrating process, it doesn’t take as long as one might think. Begin by conducting a quick online search for the author’s name, and look for any sources mentioned in the article.

An informative, accurate article should be supported by reputable sources and written by an expert on the subject. It is best to look for an author who has published similar articles for reputable publications. If the sources cited in the article do not support the content, the article is most likely false.

9. Verify the article’s information against a reliable and trustworthy source.

Use respected and informed sources to compare the article’s content. Check the accuracy of the information from the news report or article and confirm if it aligns with what experts say.

If the article contradicts the expert findings, then it’s most likely a fake news article. For example, if you’re cross-checking an article on COVID-19, make sure to compare it with reliable sources such as the World Health Organization and the United Nations.

10. Be wary of articles with clickbait titles that are intended to grab your attention and entice you to click on them.

These types of headlines are often used on fake news articles to attract readers. However, studies indicate that many people on social media will share an article without reading it first.

So, if you come across a headline that seems too outrageous to be real, it’s best to ignore it and move on. Titles like “You won’t believe what happened next” or “You’ll never guess who did this” are common examples of clickbait.

11. To avoid falling for fake news, it’s important to approach new information with a healthy dose of skepticism.

This means not accepting any information as fact until you’ve verified the credibility of the author (2), website, and sources. Although this can be time-consuming, it’s worth it to avoid being misled by false information. You can also encourage your friends and family to adopt a similar critical mindset when consuming news.

In summary, misinformation refers to the dissemination of inaccurate or false information, which may be unintentional. Disinformation is the deliberate spreading of false information with the intent to deceive or mislead. On the other hand, fake news is a type of disinformation that is intentionally created and spread to deceive or manipulate people.

To avoid falling for misinformation, disinformation, or fake news, one can fact-check information, check the source’s credibility, verify the author’s background, double-check the article’s publication date, and compare the article with well-established sources. It is important to remain skeptical and critical when reading news reports and remind others to do the same.

Thank you for reading this article about the difference between misinformation vs disinformation and fake news and I really hope that you take action my advice.

I wish you good luck and I hope its contents have been a good help to you.

Przemkas Mosky
Przemkas Mosky started Perfect 24 Hours in 2017. He is a Personal Productivity Specialist, blogger and entrepreneur. He also works as a coach assisting people to increase their motivation, social skills or leadership abilities. Read more here