The online dictionary’s 2018 pick follows last year’s “complicit,” and 2016’s “xenophobia.”
Linguist-in-residence Jane Solomon said “misinformation” was deliberately chosen over “disinformation,” and meant to serve as a “call to action” against those who spread it. “Disinformation would have also been a really, really interesting word of the year this year, but our choice of misinformation was very intentional,” she said continuing:
Disinformation is a word that kind of looks externally to examine the behavior of others. It’s sort of like pointing at behavior and saying, ‘THIS is disinformation.’ With misinformation, there is still some of that pointing, but also it can look more internally to help us evaluate our own behavior, which is really, really important in the fight against misinformation. It’s a word of self-reflection, and in that it can be a call to action. You can still be a good person with no nefarious agenda and still spread misinformation.”
“The rampant spread of misinformation is really providing new challenges for navigating life in 2018,” Solomon told The Associated Press. “Misinformation has been around for a long time, but over the last decade or so the rise of social media has really, really changed how information is shared.”
Solomon further asserted that Dictionary.com believes “understanding the concept of misinformation is vital to identifying misinformation as we encounter it in the wild, and that could ultimately help curb its impact.” The Dictionary.com article itself outlines ways people can combat misinformation in their own lives.
According to their list, individuals can “improve our own media literacy by carefully considering our sources of information,” as well as “fact-check the stories we encounter on social media before believing them,” and “commit to reading entire articles, and not just headlines, before sharing them.” Finally, they encourage readers to “point others to fact-checking resources when we see misinformation spreading.”