Sample Argumentative Essay Paper on Misinformation Spread on Social Media

The Spread of Misinformation and Social Media Contribution to the Propagation
Technological advancements, especially in the field of information communication have
contributed greatly to information access. Consequently, the speed at which information spreads
has escalated. This has led to an increase in the number of people who consume information.
Unfortunately, with. Social media is in the spotlight for providing a platform for this spread
(Valenzuela, Halpern, Katz, & Miranda, 2019) , therefore, it is considered key among the
spreaders of misinformation with Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp both being on the radar.

Misinformation

The spread of untrue information without necessarily having a motive to deceive is called
misinformation. However, there’s a class of misinformation that is intended to deceive. With a
deceptive motive, this is referred to as disinformation. Principally, misinformation impacts a
population or group by creating fear and suspicion. If judged to be true and credible by the
unwary, news prodigy may amount to misinformation. According to scholars, misinformation is
the fabricated news that imitates news contents on the media (Tandoc Jr, Lim, & Ling, 6(2)) ,
though, not organizational intent.
Background
Misinformation derives its history from that of mass communication. Examples in the
early times are the defamatory statements among political leaders communicated among the
rivals in the Imperial and Renaissance Italy as is in Robert Darnton's’ article of 2017. Europe and
Italy, owing to the spread of a mechanized printing machine by Gutenberg, experienced an
inflated rate of the spread of misinformation. A good example of what could amount to

MISINFORMATION SPREAD ON SOCIAL MEDIA 3
misinformation was the “Greate Moon Hoax” which was recorded in several articles that
purported to explain life on the moon.

The truncated y-axis is widely known to contain
visually misleading information.

Picture retrieved from

https://www.datapine.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Truncated-Y-Axis-Data-
Visualizations-Designed-To-Mislead.jpg

Recent Case of Misinformation
Recently, following the emergence of the coronavirus, there has been a lot of false
information circulation in social media. With no vaccine or cure that is confirmed for the virus,
many are been at risk of receiving and consuming false information concerning coronavirus
(Mian & Khan, 2020) . In complete disregard to the instructions and guidelines provided by
health institutions, innocent and unsuspecting individuals face the risks of applying uncertified
methods in a bid to keep safe from the deadly virus. As a result, some have bought into the ideas
of black immunity against the virus, a lie that had been propagated reference to the low rates of
both infections and mortality among the black race. This, however, amounts to misinformation
since it does not anchor on any proven medical research.

MISINFORMATION SPREAD ON SOCIAL MEDIA 4

The Spread, Spreaders, and Threats of Misinformation

Threats from Misinformation.
Generation, dissemination and propagation of false information can lead to fear, distrust,
violence, and even create divisions in the society. For instance, the wrong information
communicated about the COVID-19 pandemic could easily compromise individual health and
lead to death if it contains wrong information on the management and treatment of the disease
(Cook, Lewandowsky, & Ecker, 2017) . Similarly, untrue and defamatory publications about a
celebrity, especially a politician could have far-reaching political effects that can culminate into
political rifts in a democratic state.
Spread and Spreaders of Misinformation
The spread of false information or fake news occurs via many different avenues. Firstly,
there are the human aspects. Individuals who have the attention of the audience and command a
large following of any nature, have a good podium on which to pass information. If part or whole
of the information they pass is proven to be untrue, then that amount to the propagation of
misinformation by the individual.
Secondly, the news media, in all its printed, audio, and visual forms, may spread
information, even though not intentionally, but by disseminating information from unreliable
sources to its subscribers. Thirdly, there is the contribution of social media in the spread of
misinformation. With millions of subscribers across its different platforms, social media provides
a perfect avenue for the propagation of untrue information. As a result, social media has put
many people at risk of being deceived or misled by probably, unintentional circulation of
unverified information or unhealthy individual opinions.

MISINFORMATION SPREAD ON SOCIAL MEDIA 5
Pictorial emphasis on the susceptibility to
misinformation.
Retrieved from: https://www.wikihow.com/Fact-
Check-Misinformation#/Image:Fact-Check-
Misinformation

Misinformation Spread Via the Social Media

The impact of social media concerning information access is a matter that cannot be
downplayed. In the current era of information technology and communication, it has become
difficult to differentiate between true and false information that comes out of social media.
According to Fredrika Lahdenranta, in his publication on the role of social media in spreading
false information, the rise of Donald Trump has greatly elaborated an era of multiple realities and
distrust. Consequently, it is near impossible, partly due to the contribution by social media, to
discriminate between completely true or false massages. For instance, the term “fake news” has
been used by Trump and his allies in a move of discrediting their political adversaries on social
media. These arguments, in most cases, paint the picture of alternate realities. As a result, there
are an erosion and disappearance of fact-based realities.
Additionally, social media as a platform, not only provides the podium for political
information but also other social and entertainment issues. It is from this of information and data
accessible on social media that leads to a further convolution of the matter. According to
Waltman, there exist a certain level of manipulation in the perceptions of the world. The
manipulation is taking place unimaginably fast about time, intention, and space.

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Effects of Misinformation

The effects of misinformation are informed by their most probable influences on
memory. There are inaccuracies in the recalled information due to misconceptions that accrue
from previous information received about an incident or event. Misinformation, therefore, is an
example of distortions that come about at the time of reception of a new message due to the
contents of the previous communication. According to research by Elizabeth Loftus, a
researcher, the effects of misinformation gives a two-sided reflection on memory. It, therefore,
influences other peoples’ predictions on one’s memory concerning false information.
Besides the stakeholders in information communication, the subscribers to social media
platforms are affected uniquely by this menace. The political class, for example, may reap from
the impacts arising from the misrepresentation of a competitor. On the other hand, the exact
misrepresented information may influence the judgment and even decision making of a political
formation. Essentially, to the stakeholders, it rolls down to the influence on opinions and
judgments which can easily culminate into a loss of trust. To emphasize that, a close look into
recent speculations that surrounded President Donald Trump’s hospitalization, alleging that it
was a schematic political move, can easily influence the stance by some followers of the political
formation he belongs to. Hence, the spread of misinformation exploits susceptibility. The degree
of impacts of susceptibility, though, varies with certain traits and qualities like available working
memory.

The picture with misleading messages
circulated on Twitter contrary to
regulations that prohibited large public

MISINFORMATION SPREAD ON SOCIAL MEDIA 7

gatherings at the time.
Retrievedfrom:https://twitter.com/HilEgan/status/555103225314287616/photo/1

MISINFORMATION SPREAD ON SOCIAL MEDIA 8

Recommendation on Mitigating Spread of Misinformation
Mitigating the spread of false information requires an all applied effort to succeed.
Accordingly, there is at least one measure that everyone can take before consuming the
information. Firstly, a check ought to be conducted on the legitimacy of the information
emanating from any source to verify its contents and the author (Vosoughi, Roy, & Aral, 2018) .
Secondly, the audience should be sensitized on the need to avoid any engagements with bot
accounts which has recently found a platform on Twitter. Lastly, there needs to be an awareness
campaign on social media on the ethical and moral issues that relate to the misrepresentation of
information, its social and political impacts in the society.

Conclusion

Misinformation, therefore, in this era of technological innovations in information
communication, has emerged to be key among issues that threaten the safety and privacy of
millions of people. With social media and its massive pulling into the frenzy, there is a need to
expedite the fight against misinformation. Moreover, with the current high political temperatures
that are experienced in most parts of the world, the spread of this menace could fuel politically
derived instabilities. It is hence necessary to put the social media among other media platforms
that are on the radar to further analysis, and research is conducted to establish a reliable and
effective mechanism that can be put in place to stop the spread of misinformation. Last but not
least, the creation of awareness among the stakeholders on the ethical dysfunctionality that is
attributed to misrepresentation and distortion of information should be treated as apriority. This
will enhance the moral and professional use of the various platforms that provide the avenues via

MISINFORMATION SPREAD ON SOCIAL MEDIA 9
which information is transmitted both intentionally and subconsciously. consequently, there will
be more emphasis on the values that need to be adopted and the obligation by every individual,
organization, or group in mitigating the spread of misinformation.

References

Cook, J., Lewandowsky, S., & Ecker, U. K. (2017). Neutralizing misinformation through
inoculation: Exposing misleading argumentation techniques reduces their influence. PloS
one, e0175799.

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Mian, A., & Khan, S. (2020). Coronavirus: the spread of misinformation. BMC medicine, 18(1),
1-2.
Tandoc Jr, E. C., Lim, Z. W., & Ling, R. (6(2)). Defining “fake news” A typology of scholarly
definitions. Digital journalism, 6(2), 137-153.
Valenzuela, S., Halpern, D., Katz, J. E., & Miranda, J. P. (2019). The paradox of participation
versus misinformation: Social media, political engagement, and the spread of
misinformation. Digital Journalism, 7(6), 802-823.
Vosoughi, S., Roy, D., & Aral, S. (2018). The spread of true and false news online. Science,
359(6380), 1146-1151.