The topic is riddled with an abundance of terms mixing different realities. By consolidating the definitions, we want to facilitate exchanges.

Coordinated campaign

Convergent clues pointing to actions increasing the spread of some specific content, through various media and by human and/or non-human sources.

Source: CAPS report.


Intentional dissemination of information that is wholly or partly false or misleading.

Only intentionality distinguishes it from misinformation.

Source: CAPS report.

Fake news

The most commonly used expression. Its use was popularized during the 2016 American presidential campaign, in particular by then-candidate Donald Trump, in order to designate press articles critical of him.

This vague term does not account for the fact that part of the problem arises from information that is not, strictly speaking, “false”. All phenomena can not always be positioned relative to the veracity of the information. It has been used so broadly that it can today designate all the news that one dislikes, or even describe a form of generalized mistrust of the “mainstream” media.

Sources: CAPS report and A multi-dimensional approach to disinformation, Final report of the High Level Expert Group on Fake News and Online Disinformation.

Information manipulation

Generic term describing the grouping of all intentional forms of dissemination, production or retention of information for hostile political purposes (destabilizing institutions and states, orienting populations in order to influence their choices or undermine their autonomy of decision) and carried out in a non-loyal manner towards the receivers of information.

Manipulation is:

  • deliberate: its purpose is to cause harm;
  • clandestine: victims do not know they are being manipulated;
  • not necessarily positioned vis-à-vis the veracity of the information.

Source: CAPS report.


Dissemination of genuine information to cause harm, often by moving information expected to stay private into the public sphere.

Source: Council of Europe report DGI(2017)09.


Unintentional dissemination of information that is wholly or partly false, or of information which inaccuracy is unintentional.

Sources: CAPS report and Data & Society report.

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