Disinformation

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Disinformation is false or inaccurate information that is spread deliberately with intentions of turning genuine information useless. For this reason, it is synonymous with and sometimes called black propaganda. 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.

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Examples of disinformation

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 the candidates 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 forged documents, manuscripts, and photographs, or spreading malicious rumors and fabricated intelligence. Its techniques may also be found in commerce and government, used to try to undermine the position of a competitor.

World War II and Cold War

A classic example of disinformation was 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.

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