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Misinformation and Disinformation

Type of Information Disorders table

Misinformation, Disinformation and Fake News Defined

  • Misinformation

    Misinformation is false or inaccurate information that is mistakenly or inadvertently created or spread; the intent is not to deceive. Shared on the University of Michigan Library Fake News resource guide.
  • Disinformation

    Disinformation is false information that is deliberately created and spread "in order to influence public opinion or obscure the truth" according to Merriam-Webster dictionary. Shared on the University of Michigan Library Fake News resource guide.

    Disinformation is a broader term that encompasses all examples of deliberately false or misleading information. It differs from misinformation, which refers to information that is inaccurate but not necessarily maliciously so. Shared by the Central Washington University Library.

  • Fake News

    “Fake news” is a term that has come to mean different things to different people. At its core, we are defining “fake news” as those news stories that are false: the story itself is fabricated, with no verifiable facts, sources or quotes. Sometimes these stories may be propaganda that is intentionally designed to mislead the reader, or may be designed as “clickbait” written for economic incentives (the writer profits on the number of people who click on the story). In recent years, fake news stories have proliferated via social media, in part because they are so easily and quickly shared online. 

    Shared on the University of Michigan Library Fake News resource guide.

  • Confirmation Bias

    Confirmation bias is the idea that we tend to accept information unquestionably when it reinforces some predisposition we have or some existing belief or attitude. In this video, reporters and media professionals define the term "confirmation bias," and discuss its effect on how people approach and evaluate news and other information.

    Video provided by Facing History's Resource Library.



Resources for Spotting Fake News

  • FactCheck.org
    • Nonpartisan, nonprofit "consumer advocate" for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. FactCheck.org applies the best practices of both journalism and scholarship to increase public knowledge and understanding.
  • Fake News: It's Complicated
    • Resources compiled by Claire Wardle. The site Includes helpful infographic that helps to explain problematic content in the information ecosystem.
  • False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and Satirical "News" Sources
    • Resource created by Dr. Melissa Zimdars, an assistant professor of communication & media at Merrimack College, as a tool to teach her students about journalism/social media/media literacy.
  • Polygraph.info
    • A fact-checking website produced by Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. This website serves as a resource for verifying the increasing volume of disinformation and misinformation being distributed and shared globally.
  • WashingtonPost Fact Checker
    • Rates truthfulness of news stories.

How to Spot Fake New Infographic

Review the infographic created by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions on How to Spot Fake News.