Dictionary.com named misinformation its 2018 Word of the Year. Defined as “false information that is spread, regardless of whether there is intent to mislead,” the word describes a phenomenon that has emerged given the large role technology plays in the spread of information, misinformation and disinformation alike. In an era of division about identity, environmental, health, political and economic concerns, the rise of misinformation has been profound.
According to a release, “The recent explosion of misinformation and the growing vocabulary we use to understand it have come up again and again in the work of our lexicographers,” said Jane Solomon, Linguist-in-Residence at Dictionary.com. “Over the last couple of years, Dictionary.com has been defining words and updating terms related to the evolving understanding of misinformation including disinformation, echo chamber, confirmation bias, filter bubble, conspiracy theory, fake news, post-fact, post-truth, homophily, influencer, and gatekeeper.”
“The word misinformation is particularly interesting as its meaning is widely conflated with disinformation,” Solomon continued. “The intent behind the two words is important to note – with misinformation, the intent is generally not to mislead; with disinformation, the intent is always to mislead.”