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False Information and Rumors

$50-$300 Million

was estimated to be lost each day during the pandemic, due to mis- and disinformation1

Falsehoods are 70% More

likely to be retweeted on X (Twitter) than the truth, and reach their first 1,500 people six times faster2

The Three Topics

where misinformation can cause severe harm are disaster, health, and politics3

Sources: 1 2 3

A study from the John Hopkins Center for Health Security estimated that misinformation and disinformation during the pandemic cost an estimated $50 million to $300 million per day in the U.S. It’s not just our country; the University at Oxford’s Internet Institute released a study exploring the many ways in which misinformation generates profits for those spreading it. Another report from the Central European University details how much other countries have made from misinformation. There’s even a study exploring how the pressure to conform helps misinformation spread. If you use social media to get most of your news, check out these popular platforms’ misinformation centers.

FacebookInstagramX (Twitter)YouTubeTikTok

What is ‘Fake News’? The Difference Between Misinformation, Disinformation, and Malinformation
MisinformationNot true, but also not created or shared with the intent to harm.Usually spread by: accident, lack of fact checking, rumors
DisinformationNot true and deliberately created to mislead, harm, or manipulate a person, group, organization, or country.Usually spread by: those seeking to cause harm or chaos
MalinformationBased on fact, but used out of context to mislead, harm, or manipulate.Usually spread by: those seeking to cause harm or chaos
Definitions from CISA

Why Would Someone Purposely Spread False Information?

There are many reasons why someone would purposely create and distribute misleading, harmful, or untrue information. Motivations range from financial (through direct payments and ad revenue), political (foreign interests weakening American democracy), to personal (retaliation, misunderstanding, boredom). Here are some resources to help you understand where false news comes from, and why it is shared:

Rumors Preventing You from Receiving State and Federal Aid

Examples of False or Misleading Information

Profiting from Rumor Reporting

If you are getting your news from social media accounts, influencers, or popular personalities, consider a few things: do they ask you to make direct monetary contributions? Do they promote and sell merchandise alongside with their posts? Do they ask for you to purchase and send things to them from a wishlist? Did you find their account or website through an advertisement? Below are some examples of what an account that profits from spreading mis-, dis-, or malinformation might use.

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