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Media Literacy

For ENGL2200

Venn Diagram of Misinformation, Malinformation, and Disinformation


Misinformation is false information that is shared either with or without the intention to deceive others.

There are six main types of misinformation: 

  • Fabricated content: completely false content;
  • Manipulated content: distortion of genuine information or imagery, for example a headline that is made more sensationalist, often popularised by ‘clickbait’;
  • Imposter content: impersonation of genuine sources, for example by using the branding of an established news agency;
  • Misleading content: misleading use of information, for example by presenting comment as fact;
  • False context of connection: factually accurate content that is shared with false contextual information, for example when a headline of an article does not reflect the content;
  • Satire and parody: presenting humorous but false stories as if they are true. Although not usually categorised as fake news, this may unintentionally fool readers.

House of Commons Select Committee on Culture, Media, and Sport. (2018, July 29). Disinformation and 'fake news': Interim Report.


Disinformation is a TYPE of misinformation, where the distorting of fact is done with intent to mislead. 

The differences between mis- and disinformation lie in the INTENT behind the inaccurate information. Is someone or something purposefully misleading you?

The most commonly discussed form of Disinformation is Fake news, or "those news stories that are false: the story itself is fabricated, with no verifiable facts, sources or quotes. Sometimes these stories may be propaganda that is intentionally designed to mislead the reader, or may be designed as “clickbait” written for economic incentives (the writer profits on the number of people who click on the story)."

Important things to remember about Fake News:

  • While the term is highly politicized, at it's core Fake news is that it is a form of DISinformation, meant to purposefully mislead for financial or political gain. 
  • Things are only considered fake news when the information is deliberately wrong or sensationalized- news can contain bias without being fake.
  • This is just a brief overview- there are entire books written about this topic and it's not easy to define or discuss!