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10 things to know about misinformation and disinformation

Briefing/policy papers

Written by Jonathan Tanner

Hero image description: We are all potential spreaders of misinformation and disinformation Image credit:© ODI

By accident or design, the internet and social media have created the ideal conditions for a huge increase in false information and conspiracy theories. This can cause real harm offline, especially because digital literacy and digital policy are both currently unable to keep up with the pace of change.

In recent years, major democracies have had to investigate foreign interference in their digital information ecosystems. Over a third of Europeans now encounter so-called ‘fake news’ every day. In June 2020, the World Health Organization held its first-ever conference looking at ‘infodemiology’ in response to misinformation related to Covid-19. Now established fact-checking organisations are emerging across the world, and major media organisations have misinformation and disinformation reporters.

This briefing note outlines 10 things you need to know about misinformation and disinformation and how they can be tackled.

What is misinformation and disinformation? © ODI 2020
We are all potential spreaders of misinformation. © ODI 2020
Digital technology has given new prominence to the old problem of misinformation. © ODI 2020
 Misinformation and disinformation spread easily online. © ODI 2020
Misinformation campaigns can be closely linked to political strategies. © ODI 2020
The misinformation industry profits millions of dollars every year. © ODI 2020
Trust plays a critical role in digital information ecosystems. © ODI 2020
Misinformation and disinformation can cause real damage. © ODI 2020
Misinformation and disinformation are complex problems that require innovative solutions. © ODI 2020
We can all help to prevent the spread of misinformation and disinformation. © ODI 2020

Jonathan Tanner