"Nobody's perfect" is an excellent rule of thumb in most cases but a bad omen when you're looking for information on the no-editorial-control Internet.
1.The action of misinforming or condition of being misinformed.
2. Erroneous or incorrect information." (from Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., 1989)
Misinformation differs from propaganda in that it always refers to something which is not true. It differs from disinformation in that it is "intention neutral": it isn't deliberate, it's just wrong or mistaken.
"It's going to require numerous IRA agents." -- George W. Bush commenting on Al Gore's tax plan, which he felt would lead to a larger Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and probably not a larger Irish Republican Army (IRA), in a campaign speech given at Greensboro, N.C., Oct. 10, 2000 (Read the Salon archive of "Bushisms")
One of the most popular forms of misinformation on the Internet, especially e-mail, is the passing along of urban legends. Urban legends are fabricated or untrue stories that are passed along by sincere people who believe them...and feel the need to "inform" others.
"If you're driving after dark and see an oncoming car with its headlights turned off, DO NOT flash your lights at them. This apparently is a new common gang member initiation "game" that goes like this: the new member being initiated drives along with no headlights on and the first car to flash their headlights at him is now his "target." He is now required to chase that car and shoot at or into the car in order to complete his initiation requirement." -- a recurring urban legend that has appeared in print, fax campaign, and through e-mail
Misinformation is perhaps the most difficult information lookalike to diagnose. Why? What strategies could you develop to determine whether what you are reading constitutes information or misinformation?
Urban legends, unlike Mr. Bush's acronym problem, sometimes begin in malice. They become misinformation when they are repeated by sincerely misguided people. Everybody makes mistakes...check the validity of everything you read before you put your belief in it and use it.