There is no general agreement on how to define the concept of ‘disinformation’. Some even reject the concept a priori arguing that it is misleading, confusing, or even misguiding.
Those who, sometimes very reluctantly, use the concept distinguish several elements that together constitute disinformation:
- The core of disinformation is misleading information;
- According to some this information is false;
- According to some the information is intentionally misleading/ false;
- This misleading information is disseminated;
- The disseminated misleading information causes harm;
- According to some the information intentionally causes harm.
For some, the requirement that disinformation is ‘false’ or ‘intentionally misleading/ false’ is distractive since it triggers unnecessary debates. Others rather focus on the outcome and not on the intent.
Many organizations use their own concept rather than disinformation, for instance: ‘adversarial narrative’ (Global Disinformation Index) or ‘information disorders’ pushed by ‘networks of propaganda’ (InternetLab).