Defining Misinformation, Disinformation and Malinformation: An Urgent Need for Clarity During the COVID-19 Infodemic
University of Birmingham
Baines, Darrin L.; Elliott, Robert J. R.
From the Abstract: "COVID-19 [coronavirus disease 2019] is an unprecedented global health crisis that will have immeasurable consequences for our economic and social well-being. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organization, stated 'We're not just fighting an epidemic; we're fighting an infodemic'. Currently, there is no robust scientific basis to the existing definitions of false information used in the fight against the COVID-19 infodemic. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how the use of a novel taxonomy and related model (based upon a conceptual framework that synthesizes insights from information science, philosophy, media studies and politics) can produce new scientific definitions of mis-, dis- and malinformation. We undertake our analysis from the viewpoint of information systems research. The conceptual approach to defining mis-, dis- and malinformation can be applied to a wide range of empirical examples and, if applied properly, may prove useful in fighting the COVID-19 infodemic. In sum, our research suggests that: (i) analyzing all types of information is important in the battle against the COVID-19 infodemic; (ii) a scientific approach is required so that different methods are not used by different studies; (iii) 'misinformation', as an umbrella term, can be confusing and should be dropped from use; (iv) clear, scientific definitions of information types will be needed going forward; (v) malinformation is an overlooked phenomenon involving reconfigurations of the truth."
  • URL
  • Authors
    Baines, Darrin L.
    Elliott, Robert J. R.
  • Publisher
    University of Birmingham
  • Report Number
    Discussion Papers 20-06
  • Date
  • Copyright
    University of Birmingham
  • Retrieved From
  • Format
  • Media Type
  • Subjects
    COVID-19 (Disease)
    Public health
    World health
  • Resource Group
    Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)
  • Series
    COVID 19 Resources

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