I remember watching an interview of a famous political leader at one time where he said that perception is everything. I did not realized the gravity of that statement at that moment but after few years in my adulthood, I understood that not only the truth but even disinformation can also be a foundation to create a narrative and image in the minds of the people.

Disinformation can be extremely dangerous both in the long and short term. It erodes the trust in the factual sources, creates social barrier amongst people, and jeopardizes public health by spreading false narratives.

In this post, we will learn the scenarios where disinformation is highly prevalent and the ways to identify them to prevent their propagation for the public welfare.

Difference between Misinformation & Disinformation

If you are one of those people who believed that Misinformation and Disinformation are one and the same, then you are not alone. I too was one of them. But after understanding both terms, I can say that there is a stark difference.

Technically speaking, both the terms implies spreading of false information. However, the intent is difference. In the case of misinformation, the informant is unaware about the wrong facts that he is spreading to people. The motive is usually to help others but unintentionally they spread information that can have negative implications.

In the case of Disinformation, the informant is well-aware about the wrong facts that he is dissemenating to his friends, relatives and in the public domain. The individual committing it has a vested interest in some form which can sometimes be extremely hard to identify.

Scenarios Where Disinformation is Prevalent

Disinformation can thrive in situations where rapid development takes place and commercial gain, power or both is of significant size. People who spread disinformation take advantage of the fact that the targeted audience may not have the interest to cross-verify the information from independent sources. Some of the scenarios where Disinformation is highly prevalent is explained in the below table.

AreaPurpose of Disinformation
Politics and ElectionsInfluence Voter perceptions and discredit opponents
FinanceTo Influence stock markets and the investor decision
Consumer Products & ServicesTo compete in the market. Safety, efficacy, reliability and price of a product or a service may be presented in a manner that seems too good to be true.
Religion and Culture normsTo incite hatred, disharmony against specific religions, communities and groups.

Possible Signs of Disinformation

Now that you realize the importance of spotting disinformation, you can look for possible signs that are characterstics of manipulative news, rumors and gossips.

  1. Highly emotionally charged content : – People with ill-intent to share deceitful information aim to bond emotionally with their targeted audiences. Their carefully selected words are aimed to incite the emotions of shock, surprise and excitement.
  2. Claims that are too good to be true : – Ever heard a politician claiming to eradicate poverty, corruption and all sorts of deep-rooted problems upon coming to power? You can check in history how many politicians have fulfilled their big promises within an socially acceptable time frame. The number is extremely low indeed!
  3. Rapid Spread across social media: – A wise man had once rightly said that when truth completes a circle around Earth, lies have completed seven rounds by that time. Emotionally charged time, inciting negative emotions like anger, suspicion and hatred are likely to get more eyeballs on social media. In fact, malicious parties puts in lots of money to sponsor such information in order to build a fake narrative.
  4. Bringing in experts whose qualifications are hard to cross-check : – Information without credible sources are often shared by people who call themselves experts. Genuine experts have an online trail of activity which showcases their qualifications, expertise, authoratativeness and affliations with credible institutions. Their qualifications are easy to verify independently. This is unlikely the case with people who aim to spread disinformation.
  5. Pushing for Single Narrative : – People with vested interests do not allow for sincere reciprocal communication for counter-arguments. Their aim is to spread their side of their story and they smartly refrain from talking about the other side of the story. A quote by Robert Evans rightly states that There are three sides to every story: your side, my side, and the truth.”
CriteriaSigns of Genuine InformationSigns of Disinformation
Intent or PurposePrimary Intent is to share information mainly in the interest of common manAims to create a fake narrative in order to take advantage of the vested interest.
TransparencyAffliations, funding sources and potential biases are clearly statedHides or obfuscates affiliations, biases, or funding sources that might influence the information presented.
VerificationThe information encourages viewers to verify from the original sources. E.g. would be a like an insurance policy which encourages users to read policy wordings for the benefits and exclusions rather than relying solely on the information given by sales executive.Discourages or does not facilitate verification through independent sources; often claims that their side of the story is the only truth and refrain from talking about the other side of the story.
Key Differences between Genuine Information and Disinformation


People with Malignant intent utlizes disinformation in order to fuel mistrust and to polarize the society. While people spreading misinformation are willing to correct their path upon realizing their mistake, the same cannot be said for the people spreading disinformation as they have entrenched interest.