What is The Difference Between Disinformation and Misinformation?

The key difference between misinformation and disinformation is that of intent.

2 min read

Video Editor: Abhishek Sharma

Illustrations: Aroop Mishra

People often refer to all kinds of incorrect information as "fake news". In this episode of Verify Kiya Kya, we have tried to focus on the meaning of the most widely used terms – misinformation and disinformation.

The key difference between misinformation and disinformation is that of intent.

(Photo Courtesy: Tenor)

“Fake news” is a term that is loosely used to describe "fabricated information that mimics news media content." But is all kinds of incorrect information 'fake'? Or there are better words to describe the problem?

And what is even misinformation and disinformation?

Misinformation Or Disinformation – Which Word to Use?

Well, misinformation is when somebody shares false or inaccurate information but not with the intention to mislead. On the other hand, disinformation is sharing of false information with the intention to mislead.

The key difference is that of intent.

For instance: A family member shares with you a message which says that "microwave cooking is harmful as the radiation kills all nutrients." Now, they shared this message because they cared for you and also probably because they believed it to be true. In this case, they are spreading misinformation.

But when people share a piece of information with the intent to maybe cause harm, incite violence, or polarise people – knowing that the information they are spreading is wrong – they are spreading disinformation.

As per FirstDraft, the two can further be categorised as:

  • Satire or Parody: It may or may not intend to create harm but could fool people into believing something that is not true.

  • Misleading content: Misleading use of content (photos or videos) to create a false narrative.

  • Fabricated Content: When an image or a video is digitally edited to alter the narrative.

  • Manipulated Content: When a genuine piece of content is used to deceive people.


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