dis·​in·​for·​ma·​tion | \ (ˌ)dis-ˌin-fər-ˈmā-shən How to pronounce disinformation (audio) \

Definition of disinformation

: false information deliberately and often covertly spread (as by the planting of rumors) in order to influence public opinion or obscure the truth

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Did You Know?

In 1939, a writer describing Nazi intelligence activities noted, "The mood of national suspicion prevalent during the last decade ... is well illustrated by General Krivitsky's account of the German 'Disinformation Service,' engaged in manufacturing fake military plans for the express purpose of having them stolen by foreign governments." Although the Nazis were accused of using disinformation back in the 1930s, the noun and the practice are most often associated with the Soviet KGB. Many people think "disinformation" is a literal translation of the Russian "dezinformatsiya," which means "misinformation," a term the KGB allegedly used in the 1950s to name a department created to dispense propaganda.

Examples of disinformation in a Sentence

The government used disinformation to gain support for the policy.
Recent Examples on the Web Also included in the lineup was a State Department employee scapegoated by disinformation campaigns by Chinese state media during the Hong Kong protests. Jeff Kao, ProPublica, "How China Built a Twitter Propaganda Machine Then Let It Loose on Coronavirus," 29 Mar. 2020 That briefing outlined the breadth of Russian efforts to get involved in the November election — from hacking into voting systems to disinformation. David E. Sanger, New York Times, "Dueling Narratives Emerge From Muddied Account of Russia’s 2020 Interference," 11 Mar. 2020 Tech giants such as Facebook and Twitter have struggled to find responses to the disinformation that balance the concerns for the public good, their users' concerns and their companies' profit margins. William Cummings, USA TODAY, "Biden campaign blasts Facebook for doing nothing about video Twitter labeled 'manipulated media'," 9 Mar. 2020 Dozens of relatives have signed open letters calling on Russian president Vladimir Putin to acknowledge Russia's role and to cease the disinformation campaign around the disaster. Patrick Reevell, ABC News, "Trial of suspects in shooting down of flight MH17 begins in the Netherlands," 9 Mar. 2020 Gabrielle claimed that people around the world were becoming more aware that disinformation about the coronavirus was being pushed on them. Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, "Russia mobilizing ‘legions’ of liars to sow coronavirus chaos: State Department," 5 Mar. 2020 By spreading disinformation about coronavirus, Russian malign actors are once again choosing to threaten public safety by distracting from the global health response. Justin Rohrlich, Quartz, "How disinformation about coronavirus could impact the 2020 US election," 5 Mar. 2020 The system is not designed to spot political disinformation campaigns, Shuttleworth said. Jeremy Kahn, Fortune, "Meet the A.I. that helped Facebook remove billions of fake accounts," 4 Mar. 2020 But disinformation campaigns exploit less obvious cognitive biases as well. Elizabeth Stoycheff, The Conversation, "4 ways to protect yourself from disinformation," 26 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'disinformation.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of disinformation

1939, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for disinformation

Time Traveler

The first known use of disinformation was in 1939

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Last Updated

31 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Disinformation.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disinformation. Accessed 2 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for disinformation


How to pronounce disinformation (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of disinformation

: false information that is given to people in order to make them believe something or to hide the truth

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