Misinformation Alert: Fact, Myth, Fallacy

Misinformation Alert: Fact, Myth, Fallacy
Credit: Peter Kindersley, Unsplash

We frequently mention the "Fact, Myth, Fallacy" model in our Misinformation Alerts, so we wanted to give you a deep dive into this useful technique. You can use it to craft messages, develop misinformation informed strategies, or attack a specific narrative that is hurting your organisations' reputation or campaign. If you have to rebut misinformation, make it stick.

This guide was originally posted in June 2022.

How Misinformation Impacts Us

It's not as simple as retaining information

Think of the last thing you saw on social media that you thought was a lie. How did it make you feel? Did you react to it? Did it make you feel emotional?

Disinfomation is often designed to hit a nerve – to be provocative, emotional, and salient. Sometimes it works with our biases, sometimes it’s just straight up misleading. This is why it spreads like wildfire across the internet, particularly when it’s stoked by commentators or politicians.

Misinformation flows through our media environments faster than the truth. Six times quicker than the truth on Twitter, according to a study by Harvard University. The same can’t always be said for attempts to communicate the truth. The facts and stats we use to try and set the record straight can seem dry, or even unlikely, when compared to the alternative. This is a problem for us when we’re trying to set the record straight – our rebuttals just don’t travel as far as the original untruth.

Our first port of call should always be to reframe the issue away from the negative frame set by our opponents to something we want to talk about, or to have got ahead and set the frame for the conversation ourselves. However, sometimes this just isn’t possible and we do need to rebutt misinformation.