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When I encountered the sample sentence for 発信, I read this:

インターネットを使えば、誰でも世界に情報を発信することができる。

This reminded me of 配信 which I usually see online (especially on YouTube). How are these two words different?

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Both 配信 and 発信 roughly mean "delivering the same information/message to many people".

配信 is used when:

  • the information is individually sent to subscribers or someone who actively requested it
  • the sender knows who the receiver is
  • the focus is on the delivery technology (caching, networking, ...)

発信 is used when:

  • the information is emitted to the general public without specified receiver
  • the sender does not know who will receive the message in advance
  • the focus is on the content of the message (often related to an opinion, news, fashion trend, etc)

For example, 配信 is done by Netflix, YouTube, a CDN, a mailing list system, etc. 発信 is done by a conventional radio station, an SOS radio beacon, a personal website, or even a fashion magazine.

In addition, 発信 also means "starting a phone call", in which case the antonym is 着信.

If the receiver is a single person/server, you can just use 送信.

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