Propaganda dictionary – disinformation


The word disinformation, which is used frequently nowadays, comes from the Russian word дезинформация, the origin of which is associated with the Soviet Union.

The concept was explained in the Great Soviet Encyclopedia published in 1952, as false information intended to mislead public opinion. It appeared much later in Western dictionaries, only in the second half of the 1980’s and describes disinformation as deliberately and knowingly disseminating false information in order to influence public opinion.

In the English language, the word disinformation is similar to the word misinformation, the definition of which distinguishes the two concepts as the awareness of the distribution of false information. In the case of disinformation, the misleading information is deliberately disseminated, in the case of misinformation unknowingly. There is no real word defining misinformation very well in Estonian.

According to Wikipedia, the concept of disinformation has been in use since 1923 when the deputy head of the State Political Policy Department of the GPU (Государственное политическое управление) Jossif Unšliht, set out the idea of creating disinformation offices (Бюро дезинформации).

While initially, disinformation was part of propaganda, more precisely derived from one branch of black propaganda, then today it has become synonymous in the English intelligence community with Russian propaganda. It has given its name to many setups that deal with the uncovering of Kremlin influencing activities such as EuvsDisinfo, Disinfo Review, Disinfoportal or Disinfo Digest.

Due to the historical background of Estonia, today the idea is still held within a limited group of observers. This opinion is also confirmed by the propaganda dictionary issued in Estonia, which states that disinformation is information disseminated in propaganda, which is known by the propaganda subject to be incorrect or untrue.