Dictionary.com names ‘misinformation’ word of the year

The resource said it chose the term because of increased usage and as a call to action.

'Misinformation' is the word of the year

Dictionary.com is doing its part to stop the spread of fake news with its top word of 2018.

On Monday, Dictionary.com tweeted:

In a blog post, Dictionary.com wrote:

The meaning of misinformation is often conflated with that of disinformation. However, the two are not interchangeable. Disinformation means “deliberately misleading or biased information; manipulated narrative or facts; propaganda.”

So, the difference between misinformation and disinformation comes down to intent.

When people spread misinformation, they often believe the information they are sharing. In contrast, disinformation is crafted and disseminated with the intent to mislead others. Further confusing the issue is the fact that a piece of disinformation can ultimately become misinformation. It all depends on who’s sharing it and why. For example, if a politician strategically spreads information that they know to be false in the form of articles, photos, memes, etc., that’s disinformation. When an individual sees this disinformation, believes it, and then shares it, that’s misinformation.

“Misinformation” won out over runner-up terms “representation,” “backlash” and “self-made.”

Poynter reported:

The company cited several events over the past year that contributed to its decision to choose “misinformation” as word of the year. Among them include the continued role of Facebook in spreading hoaxes, the rise of the QAnon conspiracy theory, WhatsApp rumors that led to mob violence in India and widespread misinformation during the Brazilian election.

Dictionary.com also referenced President Donald Trump:

Regardless of how it spreads, misinformation is particularly rife when it comes to some specific areas. In early November, fact-checkers from the Washington Post shared their record of all the false or misleading claims President Trump has made since becoming president. As of the time of that report, the count was at 6,420, an average of about 10 false or misleading claims a day. These claims are heard around the world and believed by many.

CNN reported:

Celebrities also play a big role in sharing misinformation, as many fans will quickly believe them. “Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle empire GOOP paid $145,000 in civil penalties to settle a suit regarding misleading medical claims about the powers of jade and rose quartz vaginal eggs,” the report said.

Though the term’s popularity and increased use contributed to “misinformation” being crowned Dictionary.com’s word of the year, the selection is also a call to action.

CNN reported:

Dictionary.com’s goal was not only to pick a most searched or used word, but to shed light to the importance of words in general. “Armed with awareness, we can all do our best to recognize misinformation when we encounter it and work toward stopping its spread,” the report concluded.

Dictionary.com tweeted quotes and resources aimed at stopping misinformation:

“Misinformation” is the latest in a string of words with negative connotations that were singled out as top terms.

Oxford English Dictionary recently named “toxic” as its word of the year.

USA Today reported:

The “intoxicating descriptor” has been applied to the year’s most talked about topics in both a literal and metaphorical sense. The dictionary, published by Oxford University Press, observed a 45 percent increase in the number of times that “toxic” was looked up on its website this year.Common words that accompany toxic: Concrete nouns like “chemical,” “waste” and “algae” as well as more abstract ideas like “masculinity,” “relationship” and “culture.”

Last year, Dictionary.com named “complicit” as its word of the year. In 2016, Dictionary.com chose “xenophobia.”

What word would you chose as the word of the year, Ragan/PR Daily readers?


Ragan.com Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive the latest articles from Ragan.com directly in your inbox.