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Evaluating Sources

Introduction to Misinformation & Disinformation

"Misinformation" and "disinformation" both refer to the spread of false or inaccurate information, but they differ in terms of intent.



  • Definition: Misinformation refers to false or misleading information that is spread without the intention to deceive. It can be the result of mistakes, misunderstandings, or the lack of accurate information.
  • Intent: The spread or sharing of misinformation may not involve a deliberate effort to mislead; it can be unintentional or come from a genuine misunderstanding of the facts.



  • Definition: Disinformation, on the other hand, is the intentional spread of false or misleading information with the purpose of deceiving others. It involves a deliberate effort to manipulate public opinion, create confusion, or achieve some other specific goal.
  • Intent: The key distinction is the negative intent behind disinformation. Those who spread disinformation are actively trying to deceive, manipulate, or harm by intentionally sharing false information.

Types of Misinformation and Disinformation

Misinformation and disinformation can be categorized into 7 main types and organized by intent from least to most harmful.

Every type of misinformation or disinformation stems from specific causes, spanning from mistakes made due to subpar journalism to the deliberate spreading of propaganda.

An infographic describing 7 types of misinformation.

The infographics were created by Claire Wardle and are made available under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).

Satire & Parody

What is Satire & Parody?

Satire and parody are forms of humor that often involve exaggeration, mockery, or imitation to comment on or criticize a particular subject, often societal issues or individuals.

While satire and parody are usually understood as forms of entertainment or commentary, they can sometimes be misunderstood or misinterpreted as genuine representations of reality. Misinformation can occur when people mistake satirical or parodic content for factual information. This can happen if the audience lacks the context to understand the satirical or parodic elements, or if the content is presented in a way that blurs the line between fiction and reality.


The below examples are screenshots of headlines taken from satirical news websites. Satirical news stories spread quickly through social media and can be confused for actual news stories. If you aren't sure if a source is satire, try Googling the website name or viewing the Wikipedia List of Satirical News Websites

Screenshot of a satirical news headline that reads "Apple Unveils New Apple Vision Pro Mini". There is an accompanying photo of a man wearing a very small device attached to the bridge of his nose.


Screenshot above taken from The Onion.

Screenshot of a satirical news headline that reads "Trump clarifies abortion stance as whatever will convince you, personally, to vote for me."

Screenshot above taken from The Beaverton.

False Connection

What is False Connection?

You may have heard of false connection content referred to as "clickbait". Both of these terms refer to content that uses sensationalized language to entice readers to "click" on the content. After "clicking" on the content, readers will find it is unrelated to the headline or low quality information that doesn't live up to the exaggerated language in the headline.

The primary goal of false connection or clickbait content is to drive traffic to websites and encourage engagement, usually with the intent of increasing advertising revenue. 


Below are examples of false connection or clickbait content found on the CNN website. It is important to note that even reputable news agencies sometimes use false connection tactics to encourage clicks to advertisements or their own content. 

Screenshot above taken from CNN.

Fact Checking Resources

If you are unsure if something is Misinformation or Disinformation, a good first step is to use the Evaluation Methods and Techniques that are found in this guide.

You can also use reliable fact-checking websites to keep track of misinformation that may be spreading online.