How To Spot Propaganda

With so many social media websites stories are liked, shared, embedded all over the internet, it can be hard to decern between what is real and what is not. This blog will help clear up the confusion.

Propaganda within social media websites can be hard to notice. About 4/5 of users don't read past the headlines. That doesn't mean they don't share it or comment underneath of it. What they have reshared could be irresponsible reporting that leads to more division within society. There are many tools and resources available to combat this phenomenon.

This meme-styled tweet does have some truth to it. When analyzing news articles it is extremely important to know who owns the news company and what its mission statement is. Jeff Bezos now owns the Washington Post. It would be surprising if they published articles saying bad things about its owner.

The Lincoln Project is dedicated to holding big corporations accountable when they notice propaganda on newscasts or social media websites.

This is the ad that they ran against Fox News. MSNBC analyzes why they did this and what it means in the grand scheme of things. The one thing people have to be careful of is propaganda released to counter-propaganda. Two wrongs don't make a right so it's best to come with all the facts and no speculation.

This video from Al Jazeera English explains the 5 filters of mass media and how it impacts society. It is a zeitgeisty animation that makes one consider the roles of media and journalism in their everyday lives. It doesn't offer a lot of solutions but it makes the viewer aware.

The United States Department of Homeland Security has even released a handbook to help combat propaganda or false information on social media platforms. one example used explains how one tweet saying the NYSE floor was flooded had negative impacts on the stability of the markets. It also goes into detail warning about photos being used in social media posts that are not from that actual event making the reader or viewer think or feel something about the current event that would otherwise not occur.

This video by CISA goes into detail about how disinformation works in relation to COVID-19. How “bad actors” use data to target groups by paying social media platforms to recommend their tweets or posts and grow their following.

This analysis conducted by the RAND corporation gives helpful tips on how what to do about this problem. It is a lengthy read, but very in-depth.

Ultimately it is up to the users to check their biases and not fall, victim. Once enough practice in analyzing websites has been done one will start to notice bias and potential propaganda on all platforms. Users will start asking questions like “what expertise does this person have?” or “when were these photos taken or quotes said?. When that becomes the norm, countering propaganda and disinformation in journalism and social media websites will become a lot easier.

ASU student