Díaz Nafría, José María  jnafria@uax.es
 Incorporated contributions
Díaz (9/1/09)
 Usage domain
transdiciplinary, communication, medias, semantics
concept, problem
 German Desinformation

Factual information that intentionally does not comply with the facts. It refers to a false semantic content that, distinguishing from misinformation, comes from a well informed source. It is also used in the sense of silencing or hiding the truth of the (relevant) facts, especially in the context of mass media (situation in which recipients do not have the possibility to answer the →message sent by the emitter, being also unable to control its veracity).

For most of the approaches to semantic information, and even for the common notion of information concerning facts, disinformation cannot be counted as legitimate information. There are, however, some semantic interpretations allegedly neutral with respect to the value of truth of its contents. Nevertheless, as Floridi states, if such neutrality position concerning truth is held the following problems arise: 1) semantic value of false information; 2) informative value of necessary truths -including tautologies-; 3) non redundancy of “it is true that p”, being p genuine semantic information.

In any case, as said before, disinformation is not usually considered as semantic information. Thereby in Dreske’s work or in →situation theories, disinformation is excluded as a subset of false information, whereas genuine information is characterized by a requirement of truth. But more specifically, Floridi’s strongly semantic approach excludes disinformation under its veracity requirement. Although this might involve a certain inadequacy to the facts, it demands a strong adequacy to the reflection of these facts in the emitter (Floridi 2005). This truthfulness commitment has a family resemblance with the pragmatic and intentional approach of Grice, according to which an effective communication must be regulated –among others- by a maxim of quality (truthfulness) (Grice 1989).

A whole critical trend on information media, especially mass media, followed by a number of different schools, intends to unmask those disinformation situations, especially concerning institutionalized practices. One of the arenas in which this concern has played a central attention is the Frankfurt School (Horkheimer, Marcuse, Adorno and afterwards Habermas (2001), →Critical theory of information). Also, the studies of W. Benjamin (2008), Mirin, Baudrillard, Bordieu (1999), Ramonet (2002), Mattelart (1986), Dan Shiller (2002), etc. have deepened in different ways the characterization of dis-information in mass media, as well as its psychological, societal, political and cultural consequences.

  • BENJAMIN, W. (2008). The work of art in the age of its technological reproducibility, and other writings on mediaCambridgeMassachusettsHarvard University Press.
  • BOURDIEU, Pierre (1999). On Televisión. New York: New Press.
  • FLORIDI, L. (2005). "Semantic Conceptions of information”. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philisophy. [Online]. Stanford: Standford University. [Accessed: 01/02/2009].
  • GRICE, H. P. (1989). Studies in the way of wordsCambridgeMass.: Harvard U.Press.
  • HABERMAS, J. (2001). Kommunikatives Handeln und detraszendentalisierte VernunftStuttgart: Philipp Reclam.
  • MATTELART, A., MATTELART, M. (1986). Penser les médias. Paris: La Découverte.
  • RAMONET, I. (2002). La Tyrannie de la communicationParís: Galilée.
  • SCHILLER, Dan (2002) Digital Capitalism. Networking the Global Market System. CambridgeMA: MIT Press.
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Díaz, J.M. (9/1/2009)
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