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Fake News and its intents: Propaganda, Disinformation & Misinformation



There is a misconception about propaganda because of its historical use as a false and dangerous political persuasive device, such as use of propaganda by the Nazi party during Hitler’s time. But in truth, propaganda can very often be based in fact. However, the facts are represented in a way to provoke a certain feeling, or a desired response.

Propaganda is formally defined as the systematic propagation of information or ideas by an interested party, specifically, in a tendentious (expressing or intending to promote a particular cause or point of view, especially a controversial one) way, in order to encourage or instill a certain attitude or response.

This poster from 1918 is an example of a poster intended to persuade us about our consumption of corn. According to a story from, it was an effort to reduce domestic civilian consumption of wheat so those crops and their products (such as white bread) could be diverted to troops.



Disinformation refers to intentionally disseminating false information. It can be most powerful when coming from news sources. It’s designed to manipulate the audience by either discrediting conflicting information, or supporting false conclusions. A common tactic is to mix truth with false conclusions and lies.

This example is a very complex piece of disinformation. It uses statistics that have already been filtered through other source, and compares two separate sets of statistics that have nothing to do with one another (the analysis states "the two categories are so uncomparable that putting them together could only be manipulative."). It also uses images such as skulls as propaganda to further support their message. Source:​


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Misinformation may the most difficult information to look at and diagnose. It’s defined as the action of misinforming, giving erroneous or incorrect information. It is false or inaccurate information that is spread unintentionally, which is in direct contrast to disinformation, which is an act of deception to convince an audience of something. Disinformation is intended to mislead, misinformation is not.

Poorly formed data visualizations can result in misinformation. In this chart, it is noted the bar lengths are not proportional to the values, which could lead to the viewer misinterpreting the presented data. Additionally, important information such as the date and source are missing. Source:

Online Verification Skills

This set of videos demonstrates the skills and processes professional fact-checkers use to quickly establish baseline credibility and authority. This set of 4 videos lasts about 11 minutes.

Fact-checking resources

Fake News evaluation points

Fact-checking resources

Fighting Misinformation
"Exposing special-interest spin and inappropriate influence on policy" is "a nonpartisan, nonprofit 'consumer advocate' for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics"



"An independent fact-checking journalism website aimed at bringing you the truth in politics"

snopes logo describes itself as "the definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors and misinformation". 

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Museum of Hoaxes "explores deception, mischief and misinformation throughout history, playing host to a variety of humbugs and hoodwinks -- from ancient fakery all the way up to modern schemes, dupes and dodges that circulate online."