Peter's Blog

Misinformation and Disinformation

Written by Peter Johnston on .

I sent off the master artwork for the next issue of Parish News earlier, in which I mention an article in The Atlantic in my covering message. There wasn't space to link to it in the magazine itself but having a link to it is probably a good idea. The article is by McKay Coppins and is available here: The 2020 Disinformation War. It is a long-form piece so make a cuppa before you sit down to read it, but it is worth the read as it gives a nuanced and relatively full story of where we are at the moment with ever-escalating disinformation assailing us, particularly if we use social media.

To clarify: disinformation is the deliberate spreading of false stories - what was called "fake news" until that term was hijacked by Trump to mean anything he doesn't like - whereas misinformation is the spreading of inaccuarate stories because of a misunderstanding or an error. The latter is not what is proving so damaging to our discourse at the moment, it is the former. Disinformation is nothing new, but it is being weaponised and has new tools to aid its dissemination that have never existed before thanks to social media sites and the failure of their owners to tackle the problem meaningfully. Profit comes before the wellbeing of society, alas.