Misinformation vs. Disinformation: What’s the Difference?

February 9, 2022

We’ve got a short answer to this question, thanks to social media expert Claire Wardle of First Draft, a nonprofit based in Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy:

Graphic image showing the relationship between misinformation, disinformation and malinformation


Disinformation is content that is intentionally false and designed to cause harm. It is motivated by three factors: to make money; to have political influence, either foreign or domestic; or to cause trouble for the sake of it.”

“When disinformation is shared it often turns into misinformation.” That is, misinformation is false content, but the person sharing it doesn’t realize that.

And here’s a bonus vocabulary word: malinformation. That’s “genuine information that is shared with an intent to cause harm.” Think of hackers who steal and expose a political leader’s email.

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