Misinformation vs Disinformation: Impact on Direct Selling in India

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Disinformation about direct selling is bad for potential entrepreneurs and the economy alike. Unfortunately, many don’t even know what disinformation is or how it affects them. The average person may confuse disinformation with the more commonly understood concept of misinformation, but there is an important distinction between disinformation vs misinformation.

The definition of misinformation in the Oxford Dictionary is “the dissemination of false information, either knowing it to be false (see disinformation), or unknowingly.” Even in the dictionary, it is easy to confuse these two concepts.

Disinformation’s definition in the Oxford Dictionary is more decidedly sinister: “a form of propaganda involving the dissemination of false information with the deliberate intent to deceive or mislead.” There is no redeeming possibility of accidentally disinforming someone. This kind of propaganda has been around for many years; the word disinformation was first used as early as 1887.

Because direct selling is still relatively young in the Indian market, disinformation is rampant. We believe that in the fight against disinformation, which is becoming increasingly more widespread as technology advances, clarity and honesty will win.

Misinformation vs Disinformation Examples

To further understand the difference between these forms of false information, please consider these real life misinformation vs disinformation examples:

      1. You are invited to a party, but later find out you’ve been given the wrong address. If your friend purposely misled you, this is disinformation. If they made an honest mistake, this is misinformation.

        1. A news anchor cites a very wrong statistic live on air. If they were aware of the true data and withheld that information, this is disinformation. If they were provided the incorrect numbers by someone else and had no idea, this is misinformation.

          1. A political candidate posts something false about their opponent on social media. If they knew the truth but wanted to mislead their followers anyway, this is disinformation. If they didn’t know the truth, this is disinformation.

            1. Someone falsely tells all of their friends that a certain common ingredient is harmful. All of their friends then tell more friends, spreading the concern like wildfire. If the initiator of this uproar was stirring the pot to get a reaction, this is disinformation. If they innocently shared this incorrect information without knowing the truth, this is misinformation.

          A note on media literacy:

          These misinformation vs disinformation examples show just how serious the impact can be from accidentally sharing something with no intent to harm. Although news is so readily accessible and sharable, it is your responsibility as a consumer to fact check what you see.

          Misinformation vs Disinformation vs Malinformation

          America’s Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency has defined another type of false information, called malinformation. “Malinformation is based on fact, but used out of context to mislead, harm, or manipulate.”  Again, we see malicious intent in the spread of disinformation.

          A recognizable example of malinformation is the use of short sound bytes or video clips to skew someone’s words. Fact checking statements for full context is a vitally important part of being media literate, and most of us weren’t taught how to find credible sources of information.

          In the day and age of social media, AI, and fake news, it is more important than ever to be aware of misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation. Always research your news sources, take unconfirmed news stories with a grain of salt, and try to find primary sources for the most factual information.

          What is the Impact of Disinformation on Direct Selling?

          A blonde woman covers her ears while hands hold a smart phone, tablet, computer, and megaphone out towards her.

          Because disinformation is so rampant and the public is not always prepared to spot it, false and misleading information has a huge impact on direct selling. Fake news and conspiracy theories about various companies have impacted the United States market by a possible margin of tens of billions of dollars.

          Further, and more worryingly, individuals are severely impacted by disinformation. Although there are over 128 million independent direct salespeople worldwide, many don’t trust the sales model because of inaccurate information they’ve read. These people have been lied to, and as a result, they are missing out on all the possibilities and opportunities direct selling has to offer.

          Our mission in starting the Direct Selling Disinformation Centre (DSDC) is to prove the credibility of the industry through transparency. Fake news, misinformation, and disinformation need established truth to counter the harm they’ve done.

          “Direct selling is a well-established and strictly regulated industry in many advanced economies. In the US, for example, the business model originated over 100 years ago, and it’s regulated by the Federal Trade Commission. However, in many emerging markets worldwide, the growth of the gig economy and the arrival of innovative new business models, different from traditional trade, is not only unregulated but often misunderstood.

          No organisation is specifically dedicated to countering the disinformation that can allow rogue operators to abuse the direct selling industry for personal gain or a shortcut. We believe that this new QNET-hosted Direct Selling Disinformation Centre is the only one of its kind dedicated to countering disinformation originating from and about the industry.” Trevor Kuna, Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer of QNET

          Why the distinction of Disinformation vs Misinformation Matters

          Spreading misinformation is often not a malicious act. Technology has made it more difficult than ever to discern truth from falsehood, and many spread incorrect information in an earnest attempt to help. Disinformation, on the other hand, is an act of harm that has a negative impact on real people, as well as businesses and economies.

          We have so much information at our fingertips, and sadly much of it includes manipulated contexts and false facts. As direct selling establishes itself within the market in India, the DSDC aims to turn the tide of disinformation so that more entrepreneurs will be able to fulfill their dreams.

          QNET and the DSDC both consider ethics their utmost priority. If you have been exposed to information about us that you believe to be disinformation, or if you have been pressured by anyone in the name of QNET, please fill out our contact form for assistance.

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