I keep seeing random groups of initials described as an acronym. Am I noticing this more or is it happening more?
Not every group of capital letters is an acronym…

An acronym isn’t any old group of capital letters. There’s a difference between acronym, initialism and abbreviation.

An acronym is where the initials create a pronounceable word, like NATO, NASA or CAPTCHA. There’s no need for a definite article when you are using an acronym.

An initialism, i.e. a group of initial letters that do not create a pronounceable word (e.g. NGTV, NCC), do require the definite article. I suppose the jury’s out on FAQ now that some people have started pronouncing it as ‘fak’.

An abbreviation simply shortens a word (Prof. or  Co. Ltd.).

Oh, and then there is the backronym. Logically, an acronym created from an existing word.

Question: I wonder at the need to even say “the acronym [NATO]” in a text when you can just say NATO.

Tip: If you are using any of the above, especially for in-house or project-specific texts, define them so that your reader (or your translator!) understands their meaning.