As 2018 hobbles to a close, the people at Dictionary.com felt there was really one word to sum it all up: misinformation.
As the Trump administration has made the political news cycle a more ubiquitous presence in everyday life, it has also stirred up an ongoing debate over fake news. Seeing how easy it is to manipulate people with half truths and whole lies, Jane Solomon, a linguist-in-residence at Dictionary, explained to AP News that her team’s choice of “misinformation” instead of “disinformation” was deliberate.
“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,'” she said. “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.”
Solomon’s hope for Dictionary.com’s word of the year is to get people to rethink how and what kind of information they consume going forward–which is in keeping with the site’s increasingly woke personality.
“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,” she said. “We believe that 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.”