Misinformation in 2022: The unwanted, yet unmissable trend

Misinformation in 2022: The unwanted, yet unmissable trend

Anyone else feel like we’re stuck in some kind of vortex these days? War, inflation, political instability. Wherever we look, we’re presented with two things: first, just how fucked we all seem to be. And secondly – misinformation/lies. 

While both are actually presented simultaneously a lot of the time. Let’s focus on the latter for now. In the aftermath of Elon Musk’s recent acquisition of Twitter, “misinformation” found itself trending on the social media platform worldwide. Surprised? You shouldn’t be. 

Bullshit spread like wildfire 

The richest man in the world, owning one of the most influential forms of comms. What could possibly go wrong? 

Well, it took less than three days for us to find out the answer to this. Musk and his 100 million plus followers on the platform discovered this first hand when the billionaire shared an article from the Santa Monica Observer which questioned the motives behind the recent attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul. 

The speed at which the Twitter owner plus a host of influential figures on the right rushed to peddle this inaccurate agenda is alarming for reasons that go without saying. Perhaps we could forgive this if it were a one off. After all, the vast majority of social media users will have been caught out before sharing something that later proved to be inaccurate. 

What makes this different then? 

Two things. First of all, we can’t get away from the fact that based on following alone, his voice carries a hell of an influence. And arguably more alarmingly, just how brazen Mr. Musk was with his mistake. No apology. No official attempt to set the record straight. He simply deleted the tweet several hours later and went about his business. By which point the damage was already done. 

This isn’t a first time offence either. We already saw the harmful ramifications of Musk himself tweeting misinformation during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now here we are again. Only this time, the platform that needs to police this dangerous spouting is owned by the man himself. You couldn’t make it up. 

Ye or Nay 

The very public deterioration of Kanye West’s mental health has been disturbing to say the least. From slightly off-piste, to plain hate speech – the self destruct button hasn’t just been pressed. It’s been smashed to pieces. 

It’s been an emphatic downward spiral. First, the sporadic, out of the blue tirades against his ex-wife Kim Kardashian. Then there was the White Lives Matter debacle at his recent Paris Fashion Week show. I mean seriously, WTF was that about? 

Fast forward a few months, and it seems we’ve finally witnessed the straw that broke the camel’s back. After a series of hateful – and completely inaccurate – claims about the Jewish community, Kanye West has gone from a rapper than transcended music, to one of the most tone deaf figures on the planet. The fall from grace has been utterly spectacular. 

Like Elon Musk, there’s no trace of a genuine apology from West yet. Bar a feeble attempt at the “S” word on Lex Fridman’s podcast – Ye (as he goes by now) has continued to cast a concerning public figure. And the worst thing is, it looks like things could still spiral even further. 

Divided states 

As if baseless conspiracies and hate speech aren’t bad enough, we’re even seeing the effects that spreading misinformation can have on the political landscape. It’s a well known fact that TikTok’s reach and influence is growing exponentially. The platform – which boasts more than 80 million monthly users – has become an increasingly powerful tool for spreading propaganda during the US midterm elections. 

The platform’s video-exclusive content means that the vetting process for removing fake news becomes much harder than the likes of Twitter and Facebook which are copy-led. What’s more, the age demographic of TikTok users in the US makes for even more cause for concern, with over half of American teenagers spending more than 90 minutes on the app everyday. 

We can’t ignore fake news and misinformation in the media, mainly because we often don’t even know when we’re being lied to. One thing we do know is, there’s only one real loser when it comes to the debate between the truth and fake news – that’s us.