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Information, misinformation, disinformation and malinformation

Jan 24,2021 - Last updated at Jan 24,2021

Media play a key role that keeps the public abreast of up-to-date events and raising awareness of various problems in any community, influencing significantly the public’s opinions and mode of thinking. That is, media are the primary channels through which public views are shaped and manipulated. The role of media has been very clear in various walks of life, particularly in the American presidential elections and the turnout of votes, as media had framed election results as a basic challenge that the American community would face.

Though the task of media should not be a mouthpiece of a certain party at the expense of the other, this was not the case in the US since the beginning of 1970s until present. Media shifted the role from being an essential provider of information to enlighten and educate the public neutrally and objectively to fully indulge in public affairs in prejudiced and biased manner. 

Media coverage should be credible; yet, not everything that is said in the media at present is trustworthy and credible because many reports are false and misleading not only to those specialising in this profession, but also to the public. Thus, everyone should be aware of the following reports in the media: Informative, misinformative, disinformative and malinformative.

The informative focuses on the content that is neutral to provide the audience with sufficient information without enforcing or infringing upon their borders; in other words, no brain wash. With regard to disinformation, the content is false and is tailored to incur damage and harm to the audience. This is of course driven by money, external and internal political influence and mayhem that serve one party at the expense of the other. 

The misinformative approach centres on false content that is shared by a party or an individual without realising that such information is false or misleading. The drives behind misinformation are mostly sociopsychological to either be renowned by some media activists and influencers in their surroundings. Malinformation is when a media outlet describes unique and specific genuine information in a bad way. This takes place at the level of countries when two nations spy on each other and leak emails and detailed information to harm reputation and affect the credibility and status of individuals, parties, corporations and governments. 

Our brains depend on heuristics to assess, estimate and evaluate before judging. Thus, some media outlets resort to repetition of news and reports in order to get their audience familiarised with content to remotely control them by instilling the bait in such reports to influence as many as possible to reap the utmost benefit of such reports. Thus, repetition tends to ingrain ideas and ideologies that positively or negatively influence the behaviour not only of an individual, but also of the community in general to turn it into daily trend to gain more viewership, readership or listenership.

This can be projected on the recent American presidential elections and its aftermath incidents. Media can be an honest and credible transparent watchdog, function as a forum for viewpoints and discussions, operate as campaign platforms and educate the public. 

Tactlessly, the media’s upward political ruptures seem to fuel polarisation in the populace. This role would lead to the schism in any society even in the developed nations, as media instill ideas and fuel ideologies that would be either constructive or destructive to their communities and nations. 

The Cold War has led to the emergence of different international media clashes, all indicating the use of crises to pass major projects and undermine other projects, from space war to water war and so forth until we reached the war of information, disinformation, misinformation and malinformation that pursuit certain countries and governments’ interests. 

The information revolution has been the main pillar of globalisation in media, economic and political domains. Information and its technologies have allowed multinational companies and large media entities to programme their plans towards penetrating the national borders of other countries and imposing new relationships that have begun to be considered a violation of the sovereignty of other nations, especially when they are used in the direction that serves the interests and policies to cause conundrum and wreak havoc. 

Distortion hoaxes are often based on some bits of truth, but misleading media reports are designed to obscure the truth. Regardless of the accuracy of the content, the topics are repeated until they are accepted by many as a fact. Thus, nothing happens by chance. 

The new digital environment, with its various platforms and media, has contributed to changing the pattern of production and distribution of content that is being transmitted, which has shifted attention. Current world events are covered by media using all legitimate and illegitimate means. In the context of this symbolic conflict, the digital-network sphere, with its horizontal communication model, its fluid media state and the expansion of its networks and platforms, has become a haven for the creation of news and facts and the fabrication of data, as well as the falsification of events and fitting their contexts. 

This was exacerbated with the disappearance of the gatekeeper's authority, or with a biased gatekeeper. There is no longer an authority that determines the inputs and outputs of the content, which determines what to publish and what not. Media play an indispensable role in the proper functioning of a democracy; however, if abused by some authorities and governments, media turn to be a wedge that leads to the schism of any community. This is what we see now even in the most developed nations.

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