Misinformation in Social Media

Article by Materahub

Misinformation in social media is currently attracting a lot of attention, it is not a new phenomenon and has probably existed since the dawn of humanity.

There are several related terms similar to misinformation such as spam (a large number of recipients) rumor (verified or unverified) and fake news (in the format of news), the most similar or confusing term is disinformation. Misinformation and disinformation both refer to fake or inaccurate information, and a key distinction between them lies in the intention whether the information is deliberately created to deceive, and disinformation usually refers to the intentional cases while misinformation the unintentional. To better understanding misinformation in social media, here some examples of different types of misinformation:

Unintentionally-Spread Misinformation is unintentional to deceive its recipients. Regular and benign users may contribute to the propagation merely due to their trust of information sources, such as their friends, family, colleagues or influential users in the social network. Instead of wanting to deceive, they usually try to inform their social network friends of a certain issue or situation.

Intentionally-Spread Misinformation is intentionally spread to deceive its recipients, which has triggered the intensive discussion about misinformation and fake news recently. There are usually writers and coordinated groups of spreaders behind the popularity, who have a clear goal and agenda to compile and promote the misinformation.

Urban legend is intentionally-spread misinformation that is related to fictional stories about local events. The purpose can often be entertainment.

Fake news is intentionally spread misinformation that is in the format of news. Recent incidents reveal that fake news can be used as propaganda and get viral through news media and social media.

Unverified information is also included in our definition, although it can sometimes be true and accurate. A piece of information can be defined as unverified information before it is verified, and those verified to be false or inaccurate obviously belong to misinformation. It may trigger similar effects as other types of misinformation, such as fear, hatred and astonishment.

Rumor is unverified information that can be true (true rumor).

Crowdturfing is a concept originated from astroturfing, which means the campaign masks its supporters and sponsors to make it appear to be launched by grass- roots participants. Crowdturfing is “crowdsourced” astroturfing, where supporters obtain their seemingly grassroots participants through the internet.

Spam is unsolicited information that unfairly overwhelms its recipients. It has been found on various platforms including instant messaging, email and social media.

Another kind of misinformation we focus on is troll. Troll aims to cause disruption and argument towards a certain group of people. Different from other types of misinformation that try to convince its recipients, trolling aims to increase the tension between ideas and ultimately to deepen the hatred and widen the gap.

Hate speech refers to abusive content on social media that targets certain groups of people, expressing prejudice and threatening.

Cyberbullying is a form of bullying happening online, usually in social media, that may consist of any form of misinformation, such as rumor and hate speech.