An agent provocateur is a person assigned to provoke unrest, violence, debate or argument by or within a group while acting as a member of the group but covertly representing the interests of another. In general, agents provacateur seek to secretly disrupt a group's activities from within the group.
Agents provocatuer are employed to disrupt or discredit a group by performing acts for which the group will be falsely accused, by leading the group into activities that they would not otherwise pursue or by creating discord between group members. Provacateurs may encourage illegal acts, recomend belligerant tactics a group might otherwise reject, spread false rumors intended to provoke hasty action by a group, spread malicious rumors within a group about a group member or employ other tactics intended to provoke improper action by a group or to divert a group from its chosen purpose. An agent provocateur might attempt to implicate as an accomplice an innocent target who the agent unwittingly involves in a crime or criminal conspiracy.
Agents provocateur sometimes try to disrupt a group by creating discord between group members. They may argue for unity, while themselves promoting diviseness. They may argue against factionalism, while consistently advancing the positions or actions of one faction in the group. Disruptive group members might not be agents provocateur if they do not represent an outside interest; the term "agent" usually implies representation of or employment by another interest.