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Definition

disinformation

Disinformation is a type of untrue communication that is purposefully spread and represented as truth to elicit some response that serves the perpetrator's purpose.

Disinformation is sometimes confused with misinformation but the two are distinguished by their intention. The purpose of disinformation is to deceive. Although misinformation is also false, it is  presented as truth only because the communicator does not have the facts straight.

The relative anonymity of the Web and the affordability of creating websites have made it easy for people to post disinformation online. Sites developed for the purposes of disinformation typically share several characteristics. For example, such a site usually either has no clearly stated purpose or has little content related to its stated purpose. The majority of content on a disinformation site is usually related to a particular agenda, is likely to be very contentious and may contain blatantly false information that is easily disproved. The most common characteristic of disinformation websites is an absence of contact information or any "About us" page. 

Online disinformation is also spread through blog and discussion forum posts and comments and social media websites such as Twitter and Facebook

See an MIT video about media in the age of disinformation:

See also: reputation management, social media influence, content marketing, gaming the system, Internet shill, sock puppet, sock puppet marketing

This was last updated in October 2013

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