Disinformation is deliberately spread false information. The term comes from the Russian disinformatsiya, referring to Soviet propaganda campaigns.
The USSR's disinformation campaign on AIDS is a classic example. The Soviet intelligence and security service, the KGB, had a special service, Service A, for spreading false information. Soon after AIDS was recognized as a new disease, Service A concocted the story that the AIDS virus had been developed as a biological weapon by the Pentagon at Fort Detrick, Maryland, and was used in experiments on prisoners, which was allegedly why it initially appeared in New York, described as the largest big city near Fort Detrick. Non-Americans would be unlikely to realize that several major U.S. cities are actually much closer to Fort Detrick than New York, including Washington, DC, Baltimore, and Philadelphia.
Another example of disinformation is the Climategate conspiracy, where results from weather satellites were doctored in order to support the theory of global warming. This was brought to light when the University of East Anglia released several emails written by the perpetrators of the tampering.
During the Korean War, Wilfred Burchett of the extreme leftist New York Guardian newspaper made false reports on American use of germ warfare. Burchett accused the Americans of perpetrating "the most monstrous crimes against humanity." He said that in germ warfare the Americans had launched upon mankind a weapon more frightful than the atomic bomb. In 1998, however, news reports noted, "...documents from Russia's Presidential Archive finally prove, more than four decades after the fact, that the United States was the victim of a disinformation campaign scripted by North Korea, China, and the Soviet Union." A report by Lavernti Beria, head of Soviet intelligence, outlined the deception: "False plague regions were created, burials . . . were organized, measures were taken to receive the plague and cholera bacillus."
- Disinformation refers to false or misleading information that is deliberately spread by a government, organized political group, an individual or other entity. The issue of intent is key; if the intent is to spread false or misleading information, it is disinformation. State Department
- Bruce B. Auster, Unmasking An Old Lie: A Korean War Charge Is Exposed As a Hoax, U. S. News & World Report (16 November 1998), p. 52.