World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Disinformation is intentionally false or inaccurate information that is spread deliberately.[1] It is an act of deception and false statements to convince someone of untruth. Disinformation should not be confused with misinformation, information that is unintentionally false.

Unlike traditional propaganda techniques designed to engage emotional support, disinformation is designed to manipulate the audience at the rational level by either discrediting conflicting information or supporting false conclusions. A common disinformation tactic is to mix some truth and observation with false conclusions and lies, or to reveal part of the truth while presenting it as the whole (a limited hangout).

Another technique of concealing facts, or censorship, is also used if the group can affect such control. When channels of information cannot be completely closed, they can be rendered useless by filling them with disinformation, effectively lowering their signal-to-noise ratio and discrediting the opposition by association with many easily disproved false claims.


  • Examples 1
    • Napoleonic wars 1.1
    • World War II and Cold War 1.2
    • The KGB 1.3
    • Disinformation by News Corp. 1.4
  • See also 2
  • References 3
  • Bibliography 4
  • External links 5


In espionage or military intelligence, disinformation is the deliberate spreading of false information to mislead an enemy as to one's position or course of action. In politics, disinformation is the deliberate attempt to deflect voter support of an opponent, disseminating false statements of innuendo based on a candidate's vulnerabilities as revealed by opposition research. In both cases, it also includes the distortion of true information in such a way as to render it useless.

Disinformation may include distribution of documents, manuscripts, and photographs, or spreading dangerous rumours and fabricated intelligence. Its techniques may also be found in commerce and government, used to try to undermine the position of a competitor.

Napoleonic wars

In early 1799, a French fleet under Vice-admiral Bruix was to depart from Brest, bound for the Mediterranean. In March, the French purchased the chasse-marée Rebecca and in April, they sent her with four swivel guns and seven men, carrying a capitaine de frégate with false dispatches for Ireland and the mission to let herself be captured. Rebecca gave herself up to the hired armed cutter Black Joke on 27 April 1799, luring Admiral Bridport to Ireland, away from the route of the French fleet which successfully sailed south-west into Bruix' expedition of 1799.[2][3]

World War II and Cold War

A classic example of disinformation occurred during World War II, preceding the Normandy landings, in what would be known as Operation Fortitude. British intelligence convinced the German Armed Forces that a much larger invasion force was about to cross the English Channel from Kent, England.

In reality, the Normandy landings were the main attempt at establishing a beachhead, made easier by the German Command's reluctance to commit its armies. Another act of World War II–era disinformation was Operation Mincemeat, where British intelligence dressed up a corpse, equipped it with fake invasion plans, and floated it out to sea where Axis troops would eventually recover it.

The Cold War made disinformation a mainstream military and political tactic. Military disinformation techniques were described by Vladimir Volkoff.


The comparative Russian word is дезинформация, transliterated as "Dezinformatsiya", and was used throughout the Soviet Union with a great deal of information about the KGBs activities coming to light with the fall of the Soviet Union.[4] According to senior SVR officer Sergei Tretyakov, the KGB was responsible for creating the entire nuclear winter story to stop the Pershing II missiles.[5] Tretyakov says that from 1979 the KGB wanted to prevent the United States from deploying the missiles in Western Europe and that, directed by Yuri Andropov, they distributed disinformation, based on a faked "doomsday report" by the Soviet Academy of Sciences about the effect of nuclear war on climate, to peace groups, the environmental movement and the journal AMBIO.[5][6] Another successful example of Soviet disinformation was the publication in 1968 of Who's Who in the CIA which was quoted as authoritative in the West until the early 1990s.[7]

Disinformation by News Corp.

News Corporation is a worldwide mass media conglomerate with major assets. A subsidiary of News Corporation, Fox News Channel (FNC) is a major international satellite television network, employees of which have been seen using creative editing as a form of distortion propaganda.[8][9] Another popular method of disinformation is known as anchor doping, which is a method of constructing an opinion panel containing conservative commentators who outnumber a pseudo-liberal commentator that intentionally takes a weak stance so as to smear any liberal viewpoints.[10]

A 2003 University of Maryland study found that people who primarily watched Fox News Channel were more likely to hold misperceptions about the Iraq War.[11]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ James (1837), Vol. 2, p.256.
  3. ^ Roche, vol.1, p.327
  4. ^ The Propagation and Power of Communist Security Services Dezinformatsiya, International Journal of Intelligence and CounterIntelligence Volume 19, Issue 1, 2006
  5. ^ a b Pete Earley, "Comrade J: The Untold Secrets of Russia's Master Spy in America After the End of the Cold War", Penguin Books, 2007, ISBN 978-0-399-15439-3, pages 167–177
  6. ^ AMBIO, AMBIO: A Journal of the Human Environment
  7. ^ J. Ransom Clark, "Crude, Anti-American Disinformation: "Geheim" and "Top Secret" Magazines: Purveyors of Crude, Defamatory Disinformation"
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Fox's Slanted Sources
  11. ^ Misperceptions, the Media and the Iraq War


External links

  • Disinformation - a learning resource from the British Library including an interactive movie and activities
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Hawaii eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.