The problem of misinformation isn’t new. It has always been there either as a part of a country’s politics, an artist’s scheme to sell their brand, a strategy of propagandists to bend people’s thinking, and more. What’s different today however is that misinformation flings faster and farther. Thanks to social media and the digital world in general. Because of this, this particular problem is getting worse.
Information disorder, misinformation, fake news, or whatever you may wish to call it. There’s no denying that it has severe negative impact on our daily lives. Misinformation makes the truth hard to find and it can also become a source of danger to personal security. Understanding what it is can help you mitigate its harmful effects.
What Exactly is Misinformation?
Misinformation is a form of fake news. Fake news has many types and it is generally defined as a false narrative that is published as if it were true. Misinformation is subtle as compared to other types of fake news as it is not deliberately intended to deceive. The primary aim of misinformation is often to change or shape public opinion on a given topic. Some promote misinformation without any intent to spread harm. Most often, people spreading misinformation themselves believe it to be true.
The Impact of Misinformation on Our Daily Lives
While some instances of misinformation seem innocent or merely an attempt at fun. A lot of misinformation and fake news can be malicious, damaging, or even dangerous. Misinformation has been recognized as a major contributor to many aggressive events throughout history. The range from referenda and elections to the response to the pandemic. Belief in misinformation results in poor decision-making and judgements. It also applies a lingering influence on people’s perception once it has been debunked and corrected.
Misinformation also has a negative influence on our daily lives. For example, exposure to misinformation can reduce trust in the media more extensively, making it hard to know what fact or fiction in the future is. When we begin to believe that there’s a possibility that anything can be fake, it’s easier to discount the information that’s actually true.
Misinformation is published and promoted to change people’s perceptions, attitudes, or beliefs, so they will eventually change their behavior. If you believe misinformation, then it means someone else is driving your decisions and beliefs. Apart from this, misinformation can also pose cyber security concerns. Articles spreading misinformation and fake news can be entry points for hackers trying to steal your information.
How to Spot Misinformation
The prevalence of misinformation, in addition to the sheer volume of information we interact with on a daily basis, can make it very challenging to figure out what is true and what is not. However, there are some ways to spot misinformation. The primary way is to check the source of the content that you are viewing. A reputable and reliable source:
- is well-known and has a solid reputation of being trustworthy.
- is neutral and always offers a balanced approach.
- provides evidence-based, in-depth information that is authoritative.
Some examples of reliable sources include:
- Libraries and books.
- Academic databases and research papers.
- Government or publicly funded organization multi-media, fact-sheets, or reports.
- Scholarly journals or peer-reviewed articles.
- Established media, e.g. television, magazines, printed/digital news.
Trustworthy organizations pay their dedicated staff to thoroughly investigate, research, and validate facts. This is to make sure that the information being published and promoted is true and legitimate. Moreover, any organization with integrity would be willing to set aside its own ego. This is to pull in or constantly update any false information they may have shared.
What to Do When You Encounter Misinformation
Misinformation is prevalent in the digital world, so how should you respond? Sadly, the most frustrating part about misinformation and fake news in general is that it’s difficult for one individual to do anything about it. In a majority of cases, an article with harmful or false information has done its damage by the time you come upon it. The best you can do is learn to identify misinformation so that it doesn’t affect you or compromise your security.
When you see misinformation, consider blocking the source or website spreading it so that you don’t see them in the future. If you see a friend share it, politely let them know. Preventing the spread of misinformation is tricky as the source or author may double down if you approach them with aggression. A civil conversation is always the best way forward. The people in your life likely have good intentions, even if the information they are sharing is fake or incorrect. Never forget, that as black sheep we must put our best foot forward in disseminating fact from fiction. This is the groundwork to a Black Sheep’s purpose and value. We hope you found this useful! Till next time!– The Black Sheep
You must log in to post a comment.