Disinformation is a subset of propaganda and is false information that is spread deliberately to deceive. It is also known as black propaganda. It is sometimes confused with misinformation, which is false information but is not deliberate.
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The English word disinformation is from the application of the latin prefix dis- to information making the meaning "reversal or removal of information". The rarely used word had appeared with this usage in print at least as far back as 1887. Some consider it a loan translation of The Russian dezinformatsiya, derived from the title of a KGB black propaganda department. Defector Ion Mihai Pacepa claimed Joseph Stalin coined the term, giving it a French-sounding name to claim it had a Western origin. Russian use began with a "special disinformation office" in 1923. Disinformation was defined in Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1952) as "false information with the intention to deceive public opinion". Operation INFEKTION was a Soviet disinformation campaign to influence opinion that the U.S. invented AIDS. The U.S. did not actively counter disinformation until 1980, when a fake document reported that the U.S. supported apartheid.
The word disinformation did not appear in English dictionaries until 1939. English use increased in 1986, after revelations that the Reagan Administration engaged in disinformation against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. By 1990, it was pervasive in U.S. politics; and by 2001 referred generally to lying and propaganda.