AI Explained

Jun 1, 2024

The Difference Between Disinformation and Misinformation

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The rapid advancements in generative artificial intelligence have opened up new frontiers for innovation, but they also bring with them significant ethical concerns. Among the most pressing issues lies in the potential misuse of deepfake technology to fabricate realistic and convincing content that can be easily spread through news outlets and social media platforms. This manipulation not only undermines trust in legitimate sources but also poses a threat to societal cohesion by enabling the deliberate dissemination of false information on an unprecedented scale. 

Such dissemination is often labeled as either misinformation or disinformation. Though the two concepts are similar and (mis)used interchangeably, they are distinctly different with regards to intent and action. Understanding how is key to combating deepfakes and other content from bad actors and state-sponsored attackers.

What is Misinformation?

Misinformation is the label for information that is simply false or misleading, without deliberate or malicious intent attached to it—something inaccurate presented as fact in good faith. If a person truly believes that 1+1=3, and shares this information online, they are spreading misinformation. 

In itself, such an act is benign, and can be easily corrected; until, of course, other people who see the post start to believe that 1+1=3, too.

What is Disinformation?

Disinformation is the label for information that is designed to be false or misleading, distributed with the goal of deception, usually with a specific objective in mind. One of those objectives is to spread fear and suspicion within communities. Disinformation is often used to erode the public’s trust in their neighbors, their own democratic institutions, the scientific community, government, etc. Although these applications of disinformation on a large scale are more frequent, it can also be used for something as targeted as maligning a single individual, or to market a product.

The ease of access to sophisticated deepfake creation tools has enabled the creators and distributors of disinformation to thrive in the online landscape, where deepfake videos, text, images, and audio clips can be distributed among massive numbers of users without accountability, planting false information in the public consciousness before any content moderation safeguards can interfere.

Disinformation and Deepfake Detection

The simplicity of using deepfakes to create and spread disinformation is why Reality Defender believes in an all-inclusive approach to deepfake detection. With our state-of-the-art tools, our clients can spot and flag deepfakes infecting their platforms and workflows. 

Although the use of deepfakes to propagate disinformation is a global emergency that requires a multi-pronged approach to defense and mitigation, the use of reliable detection tools to root out deepfakes before they can circulate is the most basic step we can take in protecting society from the incredibly harmful impact of increasingly sophisticated disinformation campaigns. 

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