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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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 Yet, Kushner never grapples with his father-in-law's role as a one-man super-spreader of lies and disinformation. Peter Bergen, CNN, 29 Aug. 2022 The accounts are being taken down at a time when social media giants have been trying to crack down on disinformation campaigns about the war in Ukraine. Jacob Carpenter, Fortune, 25 Aug. 2022 The covert influence campaigns are being taken down at a time when social media giants have been trying to crack down on disinformation campaigns about the war in Ukraine. Naomi Nix, Washington Post, 24 Aug. 2022 The country has, however, participated in influence operations, disinformation campaigns, and efforts to meddle in foreign elections, including targeting the US. Wired, 5 Aug. 2022 Russia’s disinformation campaigns have had a special interest in Black Americans and race for years. Jeneé Osterheldt, BostonGlobe.com, 4 Aug. 2022 These technologies have the potential to spread disinformation and create deep fakes, an umbrella term for deceptive photos and videos that are digitally altered. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 6 Sep. 2022 Russian responses are in any case likely to include internet disruptions, hacking of key ministries and disinformation efforts aimed especially at legislators who would have to vote on the issue. New York Times, 13 Apr. 2022 The report outlined other disinformation efforts tied to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including one involving dozens of fake accounts that spread anti-Ukrainian rhetoric. NBC News, 7 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of disinformation

1939, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of disinformation was in 1939

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Last Updated

22 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Disinformation.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disinformation. Accessed 28 Sep. 2022.

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