How To Protect Yourself From Misinformation and Disinformation
Updated: Mar 26, 2022
The impact of the online spread of mis- and disinformation – including false news posing as factual stories – became increasingly visible in the context of the crisis in Ukraine, and gained notoriety as a global phenomenon during the 2016 presidential election campaign in the United States.
The impact of the online spread of mis- and disinformation – including false news posing as factual stories – became increasingly visible in the context of the crisis in Ukraine, and gained notoriety as a global challenge during the 2016 United States presidential election campaign. Ahead of the European elections in 2019, the EU is now stepping up its efforts to tackle ‘fake news’.
The phenomenon of false, misleading news stories is at least as old as the printing press. However, social media and their personalisation tools have accelerated the spread of rumours, and the phenomenon gained global visibility during the 2016 US presidential election, when viral ‘fake news’ (or ‘junk news‘, as some researchers prefer to call it) across the political spectrum received more engagement on Facebook than real news. The Australian Macquarie Dictionary chose ‘fake news’ as its word of the year for 2016, defining it as ‘disinformation and hoaxes published on websites for political purposes or to drive web traffic’. The dictionary argued that the term ‘captures an interesting evolution in the creation of deceptive content as a way of herding people in a specific direction’. According to the Collins Dictionary, which chose ‘fake news’ as its word of the year for 2017, the term saw an unprecedented increase in usage, of 365 % since 2016.