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misinformation

[ mis-in-fer-mey-shuhn ]
/ ˌmɪs ɪn fərˈmeɪ ʃən /
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noun
false information that is spread, regardless of whether there is intent to mislead: In the chaotic hours after the earthquake, a lot of misinformation was reported in the news.

VIDEO FOR MISINFORMATION

These Experts Help Explain "Misinformation" In 2018

These experts around information, the environment, technology, medicine, activism, and journalism help us explain why we chose "misinformation" as 2018's Word of the Year.

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Compare disinformation.

Origin of misinformation

First recorded in 1580–90; mis-1 + information
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

MISINFORMATION VS. DISINFORMATION

What's the difference between misinformation and disinformation?

Misinformation refers to false information, regardless of whether or not it’s intended to mislead or deceive people. Disinformation, in contrast, refers to false information that’s spread with the specific intent of misleading or deceiving people.

Due to their similarity, the terms are sometimes used in overlapping ways. All disinformation is misinformation, but not all misinformation is disinformation. Disinformation is the more specific of the two because it always implies that the false information is being provided or spread on purpose.

Disinformation is especially used in the context of large-scale deception, such as a disinformation campaign by a government that targets the population of another country. Misinformation can be spread with the intent to trick people or just because someone incorrectly thinks it’s true.

This distinction can also be seen in the difference between their verb forms, misinform and disinform. To misinform someone is to provide them with wrong information, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it was intentional. Disinform, which is much less commonly used, means to intentionally provide or spread false information.

One way to remember the difference between misinformation and disinformation is to remember that misinformation can be a mistake, while disinformation is not just false but dishonest.

Here’s an example of misinformation and disinformation used correctly in a sentence.

Example: The intelligence report concluded that the rumors spread prior to the election were not simply the result of misinformation but rather of coordinated disinformation by a foreign power.

Want to learn more? Read the full breakdown of the difference between misinformation and disinformation.

Quiz yourself on misinformation vs. disinformation!

Should misinformation or disinformation be used in the following sentence?

The government spread _____ about the location of their army in hopes of tricking the enemy.

How to use misinformation in a sentence

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