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Information and Media Literacy: How to Spot the Good, the Bad, and the Just Plain Ugly

Information and media are everywhere, and it can be hard to keep up with, let alone to ensure the news you are receiving is accurate. This guide is designed to encourage you to examine the information you receive and feel you can determine its quality.

What Is Misinformation?

Loosely defined, misinformation is false information, no matter whether the creator or sharer of that information intended to mislead or not.

  • Misinformation can include just about anything: online or print articles, statistics, social media posts, images/infographics, or other formats.
  • Misinformation can result from out-of-context quotations, images, video, or statistics.
  • Misinformation can result from previously published errors and slow retractions.
  • Misinformation often results from sharing before verifying.
  • Misinformation can result from rumors.
  • Misinformation can happen when a parody or satire is taken to be literally true.


"7 Types of Mis- and Disinformation" by First Draft is licensed under CC BY 4.0 DEED.


Source: “Why people fall for misinformation - Joseph Isaac” by TED-Ed: "In 1901, David Hänig published research that led to what we know today as the taste map: an illustration that divides the tongue into four separate areas. It has since been published in textbooks and newspapers. There is just one problem: the map is wrong. So how do misconceptions like this spread, and what makes a fake fact so easy to believe? Joseph Isaac dives into the world of misinformation. [Directed by CUB Animation, narrated by Addison Anderson, music by József Iszlai]." (description from TED-Ed website)

Some Key Terms for the Savvy Searcher

term definition source
bias a) an inclination of temperament or outlook; especially: a personal and sometimes unreasoned judgment : PREJUDICE; 
b) an instance of such prejudice
Webster Dictionary
clickbait an internet story, title, image, etc. that is intended to attract attention and encourage people to click on a link Cambridge Dictionary
confirmation bias people’s tendency to process information by looking for, or interpreting, information that is consistent with their existing beliefs.  Britannica
crisis actor

a professional or volunteer actor who plays a role in a staged drill in order to prepare or train first responders for a specific emergency scenario; or (in a false flag conspiracy theory) a person pretending to be a victim in a hoax attack.
deepfake any of various media, esp. a video, that has been digitally manipulated to replace one person's likeness convincingly with that of another, often used maliciously to show someone doing something that he or she did not do. Oxford Languages
disinformation deliberately misleading or biased information; manipulated narrative or facts; propaganda
filter bubble an environment and especially an online environment in which people are exposed only to opinions and information that conform to their existing beliefs Merriam-
Webster Dictionary
go viral if a video, image, or story goes viral, it spreads quickly and widely on the internet through social media and email. Collins Dictionary
misinformation incorrect or misleading information Merriam-
Webster Dictionary
parody a literary or musical work in which the style of an author or work is closely imitated for comic effect or in ridicule Merriam-
Webster Dictionary
satire a poem or (in later use) a novel, film, or other work of art which uses humour, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize prevailing immorality or foolishness, esp. as a form of social or political commentary.  Oxford Languages
troll a troll is Internet slang for a person who intentionally tries to instigate conflict, hostility, or arguments in an online social community. GCF Global