disinformation

noun
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

Collins has been sharply critical of tech companies like Facebook for allowing Russian agencies to use its platform to spread disinformation and influence elections. Washington Post, "UK lawmakers urge new law in campaigning in digital age," 1 July 2019 In the report, Mr. Mueller detailed Russia’s disinformation and hacking campaigns to sow chaos in the American political system, harm Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and eventually bolster Mr. Trump. Nicholas Fandos, New York Times, "Robert Mueller to Testify Before House Committees," 25 June 2019 It was criticized for being easily manipulated, a ready tool for corporate gaming and political disinformation campaigns. Belabbes Benkredda, Quartz, "Facebook created our culture of echo chambers—and it killed the one thing that could fix it," 21 June 2019 In the aftermath of a New York Times story that meticulously revealed Facebook’s cloddish response to the disinformation and hacking campaigns around the 2016 election, the company is battling renewed criticism from Washington, D.C. Theodore Schleifer, Recode, "Facebook takes on new political heat after its internal problems are exposed," 15 Nov. 2018 Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats warned earlier this year that the technology could be used by America's adversaries in future disinformation campaigns. Donie O'sullivan, CNN, "House Intel chair sounds alarm in Congress' first hearing on deepfake videos," 13 June 2019 But the war has also occasioned one of the most intense disinformation campaigns. Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, The New York Review of Books, "Bellingcat and How Open Source Reinvented Investigative Journalism," 10 June 2019 Russia’s online disinformation efforts weren’t well understood until nearly a year later. Robert Mcmillan, WSJ, "Russian Hackers Largely Skipped the Midterms, and No One Really Knows Why," 12 Nov. 2018 Belfer also trained local officials on handling social media disinformation efforts. Benjamin Wofford, Vox, "The midterms are already hacked. You just don’t know it yet.," 25 Oct. 2018

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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Statistics for disinformation

Last Updated

8 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for disinformation

The first known use of disinformation was in 1939

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More Definitions for disinformation

disinformation

noun

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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More from Merriam-Webster on disinformation

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with disinformation

Nglish: Translation of disinformation for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about disinformation

Comments on disinformation

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