Disinformation, in the context of w:espionage, w:military intelligence, and w:propaganda, is the spreading of deliberately false information to mislead an enemy as to one's position or course of action. It also includes the distortion of true information in such a way as to render it useless.
Disinformation techniques may also be found in commerce and government, used by one group, usually in the form of paid trolls, to try to undermine the position of a competitor.
Unlike w:propaganda or the w:Big Lie technique designed to engage emotional support, disinformation is designed to manipulate the audience at the rational level by either discrediting conflicting information or supporting false conclusions. A third technique of concealing facts, or censorship is also used if the group can effect such control. When channels of information cannot be completely closed, they can be rendered useless by filling them with disinformation, effectively lowering their w:signal-to-noise ratio.
The w:Cold War made disinformation a recognized military and political tactic, though disinformation is generally more subtle and designed to remain unconscious to the target audience.