Misinformation

Disclaimer: This dictionary term is meant to act as a red-blue translator to help you understand how people of different political stripes use, think, or feel about the same word or phrase. The Red Blue Dictionary is not meant to provide a concrete, final definition of hot-button words, but rather, to help people better understand one another.

Like its sister terms, disinformation and fake news, misinformation has increasingly come to be applied to any position or perspective that one group finds objectionable or concerning. What, then, constitutes “misinformation” for one group - may simply represent another group’s honest estimation of the truth.

There are meaningful differences in these different terminologies. Misinformation is typically understood to mean false information that is shared accidentally, while disinformation is shared intentionally to deceive or manipulate.

Those promoting misinformation, then, typically do so not with an agenda to persuade people of something false — but, rather, because they believe information being shared is true. This is done by normal folks using social media, and sometimes by media sources. In both cases, proponents do not typically recognize how bias or falsehoods are leading them away from the truth and/or the full picture.

Some people see bias in the media as always being intentional (and sometimes it may be). But sometimes it is committed accidentally by people who mean well, don't know the truth, are caught up in a public narrative, or are biased themselves/in their own bubble.

Misinformation, while unintentional, may still be blameworthy because sometimes it is the result of the person sharing it/the journalist not caring enough about the other side to dig deeper and make sure it's the truth.

Contributors: 

Jacob Hess, Julie Mastrine, John Gable, Henry Brechter, Joseph Ratliff, Arthur Peña, John Backman

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