5 Types of Disinformation Encountered in Direct Selling

Collage around the theme of “fake news”.

Disinformation is the deliberate spreading of false information, and it has greatly affected the direct selling industry. Disinformation affects companies, economies, and individual entrepreneurs alike. The best way to fight the spread of disinformation is to remain aware and informed! You’ve heard the saying “know your enemy”, and that certainly holds true with information battles, too.

Although there are many types of both disinformation and misinformation, today we’ll cover the five types of disinformation that impact the direct selling industry.

Misinformation vs Disinformation vs Malinformation

We will explain why and how the disinformation campaign against the direct selling industry took off. First, however, we’ll explain the different forms that false information takes. False information takes many shapes, from deep fake images online to activities that directly cause harm to individuals. The main difference between the three types of false information is intent.


Disinformation, as we stated earlier, is the deliberate spreading of false information. This involves malicious intent. The people who spread disinformation do so to cause fear and suspicion among a group of people.

Detractors of the direct selling industry have purposely spread false or misleading information about direct selling to create distrust.


Malinformation is information that started as true to some extent, but has been twisted or manipulated to cause harm. This broad category includes actions like the following.

  • Catfishing refers to the act of pretending to be someone else online. This is commonly seen through, though not isolated to, scammers on dating apps.
  • Doxing or “dropping docs” is the act of revealing someone’s personal information to the public. Often doxing is an act of revenge or punishment for a real or imagined offense.
  • Swatting is another type of harassment. People attempt to trick the police into a heavily armed or “SWAT” raid on someone’s home. Usually, this is done by lying about a crime that has taken place at the target location.


Close-up photo of a finger scrolling a screen of text.

Misinformation is the unintentional spreading of false information. Again, the intent of spreading false information is the distinction between disinformation and misinformation. One unfortunate side effect of social media is the speed and breadth at which misinformation spreads. Many well-meaning people accidentally spread false information because they simply don’t know any better.

Often, disinformation is the catalyst for misinformation. One critic makes a false statement with malicious intent, and bystanders who are unaware of the truth amplify their lies. We see many examples of misinformation on social media for this exact reason.

Types of Disinformation About Direct Selling

Disinformation comes in many forms, but there are five main types of disinformation that impact the direct selling industry. Remember that with disinformation, the intent is malicious.

  1. Fabricated Content

In contrast to some of the other types of disinformation that impact the industry, fabricated content is entirely false. If fabricated content gets enough traction, it’s usually debunked eventually. Unfortunately, the debunking sometimes takes place after the lies have spread far and wide.

Social media makes it easy to spread fabricated content. Most users won’t take the time to research statements. If someone reads a post from another user claiming to be an expert, they will often take their post as fact.

It is all too easy to lie on the internet. It’s as simple to claim that a company is a pyramid scheme as it is to post a photo of your breakfast in the morning.

  1. Manipulated Content

Manipulated content is true content that has been distorted somehow. When seen in the media, manipulated content usually shows a strong bias. An example is an interview with quotes clipped and rearranged to portray a different meaning than the speaker intended.

We have seen quite a lot of manipulated content with a strong bias against direct selling. It’s easy to understand why; the industry operates mainly through word-of-mouth. And some methods of direct sales do have a recruitment component, but there is still always an emphasis on product sales. Although all forms of direct sales are highly ethical and completely legal, many fear what they don’t understand.

  1. Misleading Content

Misleading content is information that has been skewed in an untrue way. One example of this is citing a comment or anecdote as fact. For example, anyone can tell their friend a true rumor but add their own suspicions as proven truth.

  1. False Context

False context refers to something that is a mix of true information and false context. This might include using a click-bait headline that doesn’t accurately describe the article below. It could also look like attaching an unrelated and misleading image to an article. False context and misleading content have quite a bit of overlap.

  1. False Connections

False connections grab your attention. This term refers to information not adding up. For example, a headline, caption, or visual not matching the content it is paired with.

This is another popular click-bait technique, and it’s often successful. Many people will spot a link when scrolling, but not read deeply enough to understand the false connection.

False connections remind us that it is vitally important to be media literate. Check your sources and make sure that all the facts line up.

How to Combat Disinformation

As we stated earlier, awareness and being informed are the best ways to fight an information battle. If you can recognize the red flags of disinformation, you can protect yourself and those around you. Although misinformation can be as innocent as a parody song, disinformation is a dangerous propaganda tool.

Disinformation has been leveled against the direct selling industry for many years. Why? A general lack of understanding about the industry makes people susceptible to believing false information. By recognizing disinformation when you see it, you will protect yourself and those in your circles.

Get Informed on Disinformation in Direct Selling Here!

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Fighting Disinformation, with Awareness, Knowledge, and Action