Dictionary.com names ‘misinformation’ as 2018 word of the year


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NEW YORK  — Misinformation, versus disinformation, was chosen Monday as Dictionary.com’s phrase of the yr on the tattered coattails of “poisonous,” picked earlier this month for a similar honor by Oxford Dictionaries in these tumultuous instances.

Jane Solomon, a linguist-in-residence at Dictionary, mentioned in a current interview that her web site’s alternative of “mis” over “dis” was deliberate, meant to function a “name to motion” to be vigilant within the battle in opposition to faux information, flat earthers and anti-vaxxers, amongst different conduits.

READ MORE: ‘Complicit’ named 2017 phrase of the yr by Dictionary.com

It’s the thought of intent, whether or not to inadvertently mislead or to do it on objective, that the Oakland, California-based firm wished to spotlight. The corporate determined it will go excessive when others have spent a lot of 2018 going low.

“The rampant unfold of misinformation is absolutely offering new challenges for navigating life in 2018,” Solomon instructed The Related Press forward of the phrase of the yr announcement. “Misinformation has been round for a very long time, however over the past decade or so the rise of social media has actually, actually modified how data is shared. We imagine that understanding the idea of misinformation is important to figuring out misinformation as we encounter it within the wild, and that might finally assist curb its affect.”

In finding out lookups on the location that trended this yr, Dictionary seen “our relationship with fact is one thing that got here up many times,” she mentioned.

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For instance, the phrase “mainstream” popped up quite a bit, spiking in January because the time period “mainstream media,” or MSM, grew to gargantuan proportions, wielded as an insult by some on the political proper. Different phrases swirling across the identical drawback included a lookup surge in February for “white lie” after Hope Hicks, then White Home communications director, admitted to telling a couple of for President Donald Trump.

The phrase “Orwellian” surfaced in heavy lookups in Could, after an announcement attributed to White Home press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders accused the Chinese language authorities of “Orwellian nonsense” in attempting to impose its views on Americans and personal corporations when it declared that United Airways, American Airways and different overseas carriers ought to confer with Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as a part of China in public-facing supplies, corresponding to their web sites.

Misinformation, Solomon mentioned, “frames what we’ve all been via within the final 12 months.” In that vein, the location with 90 million month-to-month customers has busied itself including new phrase entries for “filter bubble,” ″faux information,” ″post-fact,” ″post-truth” and “homophily,” amongst others. Different phrase entries on the location have been freshened to mirror well timed new meanings, together with “echo chamber.”

The corporate’s runners-up for the highest honor embody “illustration,” pushed by the recognition of the flicks “Black Panther” and “Loopy Wealthy Asians,” together with wins throughout the U.S. midterm elections for Muslim ladies, Native Individuals and LGBTQ candidates.

WATCH: Fb admits failures in Myanmar’s Rohingya disaster

However the rise of misinformation, Solomon mentioned, stretches properly past U.S. borders and Fb’s function in disseminating faux information and propaganda within the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The usage of Fb and different social media to incite violence and battle was documented across the globe in 2018, she mentioned.

“Hate speech and rumors posted to Fb facilitated violence in opposition to Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, riots began in Sri Lanka after false information set the nation’s Buddhist majority in opposition to Muslims, and false rumors about little one kidnappers on WhatsApp led to mob violence in India,” Solomon mentioned.

Is disinformation or misinformation at play by way of the yr’s most outstanding conspiracy theories? Solomon famous proliferation on social media over college students within the Parkland college taking pictures being disaster actors as an alternative of victims of violence, and over a bunch of migrants from Honduras who’re making their method north being funded by “wealthy liberals.”

Elsewhere within the tradition, numerous podcasts and movies have unfold the absurd notion of a world cover-up that the Earth is flat relatively than spherical. The thought of “misinfodemics” has surfaced within the final a number of years to determine the anti-vaccination motion and different beliefs that result in real-world well being crises, Solomon mentioned.

There are distinctions between misinformation and disinformation to be emphasised.

READ MORE: ‘Xenophobia’ chosen as 2016 phrase of the yr by Dictionary.com

“Disinformation would have additionally been a very, actually fascinating phrase of the yr this yr, however our alternative of misinformation was very intentional,” she mentioned. “Disinformation is a phrase that form of appears to be like externally to look at the habits of others. It’s type of like pointing at habits and saying, ‘THIS is disinformation.’ With misinformation, there may be nonetheless a few of that pointing, but in addition it could look extra internally to assist us consider our personal habits, which is absolutely, actually necessary within the struggle in opposition to misinformation. It’s a phrase of self-reflection, and in that it may be a name to motion. You’ll be able to nonetheless be particular person with no nefarious agenda and nonetheless unfold misinformation.”

She pointed to “Poe’s regulation” in slicing and dicing “misinfo” and “disinfo.” The time period, courting to 2005, has turn out to be an web shorthand to sum up how straightforward it’s to unfold satire as fact on-line when an creator’s intent isn’t clearly indicated.

The phrase is predicated on a remark one Nathan Poe posted on a Christian discussion board throughout a dialogue over creationism, by which he commented: “With no winking smiley or different blatant show of humor, it’s uttrerly (sic) not possible to parody a Creationist in such a method that somebody (italics used) received’t mistake for the real article.”

Dictionary.com selected “complicit” as final yr’s phrase of the yr. In 2016, it was “xenophobia.”

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