Disinformation, or deliberately misleading or biased information, costs billions annually, reduces trust in media and negatively influences society. And there's no partisan divide when it comes to disinformation and misinformation. Indeed, just more than two-thirds (69 percent) of Democrats and Republicans see disinformation (63 percent in 2020) and misinformation (61 percent in 2020) as major societal problems, says a Morning Consult poll of 2,200 Americans (Nov 10-14, 2021).
Released last month as part of Institute of PR's (IPR) third annual Disinformation in Society study, the poll shows Americans believe disinformation and misinformation (69 percent) is a larger problem than infectious disease outbreaks (63 percent), international terrorism (58 percent) or domestic terrorism (56 percent) and climate change (55 percent).
PR as a Source of Disinformation
Perhaps one of the poll's most alarming findings is that Americans see PR as a significant source of disinformation. Indeed, most of those surveyed believe PR, marketers and advertisers have a large role in spreading disinformation. Specifically, marketers and advertisers (61 percent) and PR (58 percent) were at least “somewhat responsible” for spreading disinformation, respondents said.
Not surprisingly, businesses also were blamed. Half the respondents said industry CEOs were responsible for spreading disinformation. Similarly, 57 percent said major companies were responsible for spreading disinformation.
And as a Combatant Against It
Respondents were asked who should fight disinformation. Nearly three-fourths said marketers and advertisers should be at least somewhat responsible for combatting disinformation.
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