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A typewriter and a stack of books on a desk, with a television in the background. The typewriter paper and book covers say 'fake news'.

March 16, 2022

In a world full of misinformation, how can we recognise the truth?

Fake news, alternative facts, propaganda, click bait – from unintentional mistakes to malicious lies, the impact of misinformation in our world today is clear.  

Deakin Library is in the business of providing reliable information for students, researchers, and other staff members, and educating students in digital literacy skills such as finding information and evaluating information sources. This is usually done in the context of finding information about assignments, but we’d also like to play a part in educating students and the broader community about misinformation, how to recognise it, and what to do about it.  

In the last few years, several organisations have formed to combat misinformation and educate the public. One of them, the Centre for an Informed Public at the University of Washington, began holding an annual Misinfo Day in March, with talks given by their experts and other activities. Deakin Library is taking part this year, with several opportunities for you to learn more about this important issue.  

What is misinformation? 

It’s important to recognise that there are different kinds of misinformation, distinguished by how and why it is created.  

Misinformation is false or incorrect information. While misinformation is usually unintentional, disinformation is the intentional propagation of false or misleading information. When this is done with the intention to harm it is known as malinformation. 

Misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation have been around for a long time, but the ability to distribute them widely at low cost has been amplified by modern technology, particularly social media. It can be spread by individuals, or by nations and corporations and their lobbyists – and when their intentions are malicious or designed to sway public opinion, they can have a serious impact on our society.  

Watch our Misinfo Day discussion 

To coincide with Misinfo Day 2022, we asked Luke Heemsbergen from the School of Communication and Creative Arts to give a talk about misinformation and social media. You can watch the recording of the session below.

Luke discusses how misinformation originates, why people believe it and form online communities around it, and what might be done about it. In particular, Luke discusses how we are seeing misinformation spread in regards to the conflict in Ukraine.

Learn more with our Misinformation Resource Guide 

Library Resource Guides are starting points for finding out about a discipline or topic. They contain tips and resource to help you start to understand that area or knowledge. We’ve launched a new Misinformation guide which includes: 

It’s a great place to start if you want to learn more and delve deeper into this fascinating subject. 

Try your hand at being a master of misinformation with this game 

We’ve also developed an interactive narrative game, designed to get you thinking about misinformation and propaganda, what they mean and the impact they can have.   

You will be presented with many choices, and the impact they have may not be clear at the time of choosing. That’s life. Your goal is not necessarily to win, but to discover the range of possible outcomes from your actions.  

Which campaigns of misinformation and propaganda will you choose? Which ending will you find? There is only one way to find out – play the game! 

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