is also false information, but it is deliberately designed to harm a person, social group, organization, or country, or just to have fun.
When people spread misinformation, they often believe in what they are spreading. Disinformation, on the contrary, is created and spread in order to intentionally mislead others. Disinformation can often become misinformation, it all depends on who shares it and why. For example, if a politician strategically spreads false information in the form of articles, photos, memes, etc., it is disinformation. When a person seeing this disinformation believes it and shares it without realizing it is false, it become misinformation.
A lot of disinformation is based on half-truth, where lies are mixed with part of some truthful information. This is done to give greater credibility to the false information.
Such disinformation reports often cite "witnesses" or "research" that may be entirely faked. Disinformation is sometimes carefully crafted by specialists or political technologists to persuade public opinion in favor of a cause or simply to sow
doubt or controversy.
This last point is very important. Some people create disinformation simply to make an explanation or piece of information seem controversial when it really isn't. For example, the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. Russian media presented a lot of false hypotheses to explain the disaster: it was caused a Ukrainian Buk missile or a Ukrainian fighter jet, Ukrainians thought MH17 was Putin's personal plane and tried to assassinate him, it was a radio-controlled plane with passengers who were already dead, it was caused by local separatists using anti-aircraft missiles. The point is not necessarily to make someone believe any one of these contradictory, alternate versions, but to make someone think "well there are so many ideas that I don't really know what happened" rather than believe the mountains of evidence that point to the real version, that a Russian missile fired by the Russian military shot down the plane. Malinformation
is information that is generally true but used to cause damage to a person, organization, or country. It can take the form of leaked personal information, intimate photos, or other compromising content (whether real or fake). Its main purpose is to destroy the reputation of individuals or organizations.
For example, a story about Prince Harry wearing a Nazi uniform
or the leak of Emmanuel Macron's personal correspondence
happened shortly before election day in France. A few hours after the Macron leaks, a day of silence began, i.e. a ban on election campaigning. Most journalists understood their ethical responsibility and treated the correspondence with caution, but bots, political opponents, and the official Twitter page of WikiLeaks started spreading the information through social media.
Many types of information are designed to catch our attention, often by playing on our emotional responses.
In fact, we ourselves are important elements in this system, as we are used to spreading content even further through social media and word of mouth.
Every time we passively accept and share information without verifying it, we add noise and confusion to an already complex media landscape. In that way, we have the same responsibility to verify the reliability of the information we share with our own networks as do the content creators themselves. Read more about three types of information disorder here