'Misinformation' named Dictionary.com's word of the year: "It's a call to action"
The site chose the word to make people aware about the increase in circulation of fake news on social media and how it impacts society
2018 has had more than its fair share of misleading news and information, with fake news being disseminated through various avenues, especially social media. Bringing light to this concerning trend, Dictionary.com has named "misinformation" its annual "Word of the Year."
The site took to Twitter to explain why the word was chosen. "Our #WordOfTheYear2018 isn't just any word. It's a call to action. We'll be sharing the tools to fight #misinformation all day today."
Given the fact that the site is an online dictionary, it also went on to explain the difference between disinformation and misinformation, to clear up any doubts a reader might have, reports CNN.
In a report on Monday, it explained the difference between the two. "The words are not interchangeable, and it's important for people to be able to differentiate between the two. Disinformation means "deliberately misleading or biased information; manipulated narrative or facts; propaganda," the site explained, while misinformation means "false information that is spread, regardless of whether there is intent to mislead."
Furthering elaborating the distinction, the site also went on to explain that being able to identify misinformation is crucial, because a piece of disinformation could become misinformation.
"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. When an individual sees this disinformation, believes it, and then shares it, that's misinformation," the report said.
Misinformation plays a key role in politics, which is extremely problematic. The site explained the situation with examples of fake political ads as well the ban of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones across multiple platforms, like Twitter, YouTube and Apple. The President of the United States also been found guilty of sharing misinformation on social media. "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," Dictionary.com said.
"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."
Politics isn't the only domain where misinformation has detrimental effects. Celebrities have also used misinformation for their own gain, the site used another example to explain this. "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."
By choosing 'misinformation' as the word of the year, Dictionary.com wants to herald positive change by spreading awareness. "Armed with awareness, we can all do our best to recognize misinformation when we encounter it and work toward stopping its spread," the report concludes.
The site also named three runner-up words that have been extremely popular in 2018 -- representation, self-made and backlash.