WEF Report Ranks ‘Misinformation’ As Greater Risk Than War, Poverty Or Migration

(Photo by CHRIS DELMAS/AFP via Getty Images)

John Oyewale Contributor
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The World Economic Forum (WEF) ranked misinformation and disinformation as the severest short-term risks the world will likely face, according to its Global Risks Report 2024 published Wednesday.

Misinformation and disinformation ranked higher than extreme weather events, societal polarization, cyber insecurity, interstate armed conflict, lack of economic opportunity and inflation, among others, in that order, an infographic in the report shows.

“Emerging as the most severe global risk anticipated over the next two years, foreign and domestic actors alike will leverage misinformation and disinformation to further widen societal and political divides,” the report nots.

These twin risks are what three billion people across Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Pakistan, the U.K. and the U.S. among other countries, could face as they head to the polls over the next two years, according to the report. Misinformation and disinformation could undermine the legitimacy of newly elected governments, potentially precipitating various forms of civil unrest, including violent protests, hate crimes and terrorism, the report warns.

Misinformation and disinformation were projected to fall four places over the next 10 years, below extreme weather events, critical change to Earth systems, biodiversity loss and ecosystem collapse and natural resource shortages, in that order, the infographic further shows.

The report resulted from the WEF’s analysis of its Global Risks Perception Survey (GRPS) of insights collected from 1,490 experts across academia, business, government, the international community and civil society between Sep. 4 and Oct. 9, 2023. About 54% of the experts predicted the next two years would be “unsettled” while 46% said the next 10 years would be “turbulent.” (RELATED: World Economic Forum Removes Vivek Ramaswamy’s Name From ‘Young Global Leader’ List After Lawsuit)

The report defined global risk as “the possibility of the occurrence of an event or condition which, if it occurs, would negatively impact a significant proportion of global GDP, population or natural resources.”

“[A]s truth is undermined, the risk of domestic propaganda and censorship will also rise in turn,” the report cautioned, while also showing in the form of a web that the risks were interlinked.

The report was published ahead of the WEF’s Annual Meeting 2024 scheduled for  Jan. 15-19 in Davos, Switzerland, with the theme “Rebuilding Trust.”