ith fake news and misinformation becoming so prominent online this year, Dictionary.com decided one noun deserved special recognition in 2018. “Our #WordOfTheYear2018 isn’t just any word. It’s a call to action. We’ll be sharing the tools to fight #misinformation all day today,” the site tweeted on Tuesday.
Dictionary.com’s helpful definition of Misinformation goes: “false information that is spread, regardless of whether there is intent to mislead.”
As Dictionary.com puts it, they choose ‘Misinformation’ as 2018’s ‘Word of the Year’ of the year because “The rampant spread of misinformation poses new challenges for navigating life in 2018. As a dictionary, we believe understanding the concept is vital to identifying misinformation in the wild, and ultimately curbing its impact.”
The world’s go-to authority on defining words also had some harsh verbage for those who spread misinformation through things like memes on Twitter and Facebook.
“Memes might seem trite to those unfamiliar with them, but they can be an efficient way to spread disinformation and conspiracy theories in a viral, insidious way. The subsequent spread of misinformation contained in memes can have serious, even violent consequences.”
The writers of the article point to Cesar A. Sayoc Jr., a Florida man who was charged with sending 13 bombs through the mail to prominent Democrats and critics of President Donald Trump in October. They point out that Sayoc drove a white van plastered in memes promoting political messages, which are often used to spread misinformation.
While not all misinformation is tied to politics, the report says, it’s one of the most sensitive areas to it, with President Trump leading the way.
“In early November, fact-checkers from The Washington Post shared their record of all the false or misleading claims President Trump has made since becoming president,” Dictionary.com said. “As of the time of that report, the count was at 6,420, an average of about 10 false or misleading claims a day. These claims are heard around the world and believed by many.”
Of course, it’s not just the president and politicians who are spreading misinformation. The Dictionary also took aim at celebrities who shared misinformation with their fans, who are eager to believe them.
“Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle empire GOOP paid $145,000 in civil penalties to settle a suit regarding misleading medical claims about the powers of jade and rose quartz vaginal eggs,” the report said.
Three other words were named as runner-ups to ‘Misinformation.’ ‘Representation,’ ‘self-made’ and ‘backlash’ were also considered for Dictionary.com’s Word of the Year.
The Oxford Dictionary named ‘Toxic’ as its word of the year earlier this month.