Writing for Business

Oct 17 2013   5:11PM GMT

Sock puppets, sock puppetry and Internet shills: Misinformation vs. disinformation

Ivy Wigmore Ivy Wigmore Profile: Ivy Wigmore

Which is correct?

interrobang I was annoyed when my friend shared the Facebook post about the dangers of microwave ovens but he didn’t know any better. It was just a case of __________.  a. misinformation
b. disinformation

Answer: a


Misinformation carries the implication of a mistake — someone might tell you something untrue but if they believed it themselves, that’s a case of misinformation. Disinformation, on the other hand, is false information that is knowingly presented with the intention to mislead.

I’ve been spending some time in a murky neighborhood of the Web lately, exploring sock puppetry, Internet shills and the like. Here’s a new job title I discovered (although I expect they may call themselves something else): disinformation agent. Yes — someone who devotes their days and/or nights to knowingly spreading BS, typically for nefarious purposes.

In any case, Facebook is a fabulous venue for both misinformation and disinformation. The best advice there and elsewhere? Take it all with a grain of salt and don’t share anything that might be untrue without researching it first.

Stan Carey explains more about misinformation vs. disinformation.

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