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).