What’s the difference? Misinformation is false information that is not shared with malicious intent. Disinformation is false information that is deliberately shared to cause harm.
Mis and Dis have been a problem since the serpent started talking. But now it seems like everyone is throwing them around. Why? Mis and Dis can spread with greater speed and on a wider scale through one click.
A survey in March 2019 reported that 49% of US adults have forwarded or retweeted misinformation (which they later found was made up). Only 10% admitted to sharing disinformation online (which they knew was false). Why are we doing this?
Experts tell us that the more “likes” a post has, the more likely we are to believe it and “like” and “share” it with others. That’s when “filter bubbles” kick in to personally deliver more information to us to reinforce these “likes”—whether or not they are true. To make matters worse, Facebook’s own internal research concludes that its algorithms “exploit the human brain’s attraction to divisiveness” (J. Horwitz and D. Seetharaman, WSJ, May 26, 2020).
“Oh bother.” (To use Pooh’s signature catchphrase, usually spoken after getting himself into sticky situations).
Paul warns us not to accumulate views that suit our passions. Filter buttons eventually turn us “away from listening to the truth” and we end up wandering “off into myths” (2 Tim 4:3-4). But “as for you, always be sober-minded” (4:5). In other words, always resist confirmation bias.
I think “you’re braver than you believe and stronger and smarter than you think” (Pooh again) because the Spirit of truth dwells in you and guides you “into all the truth” (John 16:13). With his help, you will “not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (John 7:24, ESV).
Looking “beneath the surface so you can judge correctly” (John 7:24, NLT) will take more time and thought and tenacity, patience, and self-restraint than a “like” or “share.” But it’s better than getting get your head stuck in a honey pot.