How and why does official information become misinformation? A typology of official misinformation

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by Hilda Ruokolainen, Gunilla Widén, Eeva-Liisa Eskola

Abstract

It is important to widen the understanding of misinformation in different contexts. The findings of this qualitative study showed that official information can be misinformation. Official information, which is information concerning and/or coming from official services and processes, was studied with semi-structured interviews in two contexts in which support with information was needed. Four types of misinformation were found: outdated, conflicting, and incomplete information and perceived intimidation. Official information has characteristics related to structural factors, language, and terminology, as well as encounters that make it prone to misinformation. A typology of official misinformation was created to show the nuanced nature of misinformation and the different social, contextual, and situational factors surrounding misinformation. In-person support may be needed to tackle misinformation. Official information can be made clearer and more suited to different groups, which also diminishes the risk of misinformation.

Read the article here.

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