The Beehive Encyclopaedia: What is Misinformation (or ‘Fake News’)?

Misinformation (or ‘fake news’) is any inaccurate, incomplete or misleading piece of information published or posted by any people, newspaper or organisation. Contrary to common belief, misinformation doesn’t have to be a plain lie or a fully fabricated fact (see Is fake news really fake?). It can also be a hand-picked selection of true facts that, put together, are very likely to guide the reader to a conclusion that is different to the one they would have if they had access to the full picture – also known as paltering, or the art of lying by telling the truth. Misinformation can happen for many reasons, such as journalist negligence and unconcious bias. When it’s intentional, it’s called disinformation. There are ways to quickly identify whether an article might be misleading and whether a source might not be trustworthy (for example, if it provides context to facts and events, and doesn’t approach them in an emotionally-charged way). However, to truly fight misinformation, we need to have an honest look at our own biases and at how our views are formed, opening ourselves to find out we might not be as rational and correct as we’d like to think – and that’s a natural part of being human (see allowing ourselves to be evil).

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