• Katerina Irwin

Learning About Propaganda (LEAP 3)

The changing views of propaganda over time

When people hear the words propaganda, our mind instantly thinks of pictures of slander/ hate towards one another. Propaganda is associated as a negative. However, that is not the case. In this course I have learned what propaganda is and how it is used in positive and negative ways. From my take on it, I would define propaganda as a tool of persuasion to someone’s ideology or movement. Unfortunately, propaganda was not always viewed in this such way. Propaganda originates in the seventeenth century from the Roman catholic commission of cardinals that the pope created as a way to propagate the catholic faith (Welch, 2003). What this means is that that the cardinals of the catholic church would spread ideas or theory. Which is the reason people use propaganda, to spread their idea and gain a following of those ideas. It’s all about power, and the more followers you have the more power and individual or organization has. The study of propaganda has made the definition change or evolve depending on what the values in society were in a particular time (Welch, 2003).

So why was Propaganda constantly seen as a negative tool? Starting in the 1920’s propaganda was used to attract followers, such as the Roman Catholic Church did so, Adolf Hitler used many forms of propaganda, to manipulate individuals to follow his ideology. His hatred for the Jewish religion as well as knowledge about the already standing anti-Semitism made it easy to manipulate and gather individuals for his cause. In the 1930’s propaganda targeted those were were closed minded rather than open minded because it was easier to get immediate action. Propaganda was a “conscious attempt to manage the minds of others” (Welch,2003). In the 1940’s and 50’s the term manipulation is again used as a way to define propaganda. When we get to the 1960 the definition changes from manipulation to more control over individual, it wasn’t just about getting someone to believe what you believed or what the establishment believed, rather controlling individuals. Currently Propaganda is viewed as “systematic propagation of doctrine or cause of information reflecting the views and interest of people, advocating for such cause” (Welch, 2003). Looking at the evolution of how propaganda was viewed it seems as though the term propaganda was seen as completely negative and as a way for organizations to manipulate and control, now its seen as a positive and negative and more as a useful tool of persuasion.


Biased Propaganda

Since propaganda can be seen as a tool, it’s not only used as a political weapon. There are many other forms and methods for using propaganda. Unfortunately, propaganda has been popularly used as a way for others to spread information whether it is true or false. Information through the media or socially can be biased. It is important to understand why they are doing it. This reminds me of Facebook pages. On Facebook people created pages/groups that are dedicated to one particular topic or belief. Other join this group or page because they also have the same beliefs or it entertains them. An example of this is that on Facebook there are many pages and groups that are dedicated towards memes. If you don’t know what memes are they are essentially a humorous image or video that is spread on the internet that has a particular meaning. Majority of them are harmless and refer to funny jokes from TV shows or movies taken out of context for entertainment, however there are pages or groups on Facebook that are dedicated to a certain ideology, such as a group for those who believe in their second amendment right, and another group that believes there should be a stricter policy on guns. If you look at the content and compare them you will see on the one pro-guns only post and pictures and events that support guns and their use for protections, while on the page for anti-gun, you will see post on the harmful effects on what gun do to the community. If there is popular news about how guns have caused protection from a public massacre, that page may choose to not share this information and vice versa the other group are less likely to share about someone who gained access to gun easily and held a mass shooting because it threatens their beliefs. The content that they share are going to be propaganda to help influence them on their cause only.


#MEETOO propaganda

Many of us know about the #meetoo movement on twitter. Individuals, woman especially had enough of the sexism that was going on in the Country. Too long woman were subjected in their environment and men received a slap on a risk and a "boys will be boys" explanation. The movement sparked a viral outrage, showing just has shockingly common sexual abuse was. This movement was to encourage woman to speak up about their abuses, because majority feared going public with them. How is this movement seen as propaganda? Well, the purpose of using propaganda is to gain support to push and organizations ideas, and the hashtag was the propaganda used to encourage woman to speak about their abuse and to show the world how common abuse was. The significance in this is how propaganda on social media can become viral which helps it to be more effective. Social media helps to play a role in spreading any kind of propaganda because thats what the purpose is. The purpose of social media is to connect individuals from across the world. Globalizing and making it seem like a smaller world. I never would have thought before that propaganda was also used in this way, I originally believed it was used politically and were simply pictures, however I slowly learned that propaganda can be created and used in many different ways.


Journalist or Propagandist?

Individuals that are journalist commonly say the reason that they wanted to go into the field it find stories to inform the public. However the because of rise of new technologies such as the internet, journalist jobs are being threatened because most people get their news from the TV. Sure journalism still exist and those who find themselves employed by networks are rewarded with being a successful journalist, but not everything is so easy because everyone starts somewhere and newspapers compete with TV networks. What I have learned so far is that propaganda can be anything, and many journalist use this tool intentionally or unintentionally, and since they are in competition to be successful, stories are picked in a biased way, too created attention. Could it be that term journalist should be replaced with propagandist. Propagandist is simply someone who informs others about an organization or cause. Secondly, Journalist at most do not have control of who runs their stories and what stories they are to investigate. Manufacturing consent is how "media acts as a check to political power" (Chomsky,Herman, 1988). Journalist are simply a pawn, because of how the media controls how the public sees everything. Chomsky discusses that there are key facts about the media such as telling us what we need to hear in order for us to continue to comply, and how democracy is staged because its all and act of propaganda in order for us to believe certain things and follow certain ideas. Most importantly looking at the media there are five features that are discussed, Ownership meaning their powerful because of how large the cooperation and in the end they are all about being successful and making money, therefor they will do anything to keep the money flowing. Advertising is the second feature because it is media cooperations rely on advertisements for funds, Advertisers need and audience and Media cooperations have those audiences. The third feature is how Journalist are roped into what is being portrayed because cooperations and governments know how to look towards the media. It's about control and the second a journalism goes against what the media is wanting them to investigate it gets shut down. They do not have control because what they find will not always be reported. The fourth feature is discrediting sources, because of the control that has strayed from the path. Finally the fifth feature is a common enemy which give people emotions such as fear to help persuade and is what makes propaganda so successful.


Terrorism and Propaganda

Terrorism in my opinion is the easiest to associate with propaganda. When we think about terrorism we recall acts of violence that has played a huge impact on society because of the threats. However terrorism can be defined as acts violent or not against civilians for political purposes. Currently a new ways that terrorist groups are using to spread propaganda is through the internets. CNN has reported that ISIS is creating videos that are in english to reach western audiences to find supporters. As stated it shows how dangerous propaganda is when paired with social media such as youtube. It is not just youtube that is allowing ISIS to produce propaganda, but also twitter which show people giving their support in the group. ISIS being a recent threat becomes more dangerous for other countries.


Video games can have propaganda too!

You wouldn't think that video games would be considered propaganda. Video games are extremely popular, many adolescence and adults spend hours playing them. Hidden inside can be messages, which can be seen as propaganda. Some people go as far to make political games as a way to make fun of certain government officials without realized the message that they are sending. Santiago Arnaiz discusses how video games may be a new method for governments to send hidden messages of propaganda in his article Gamifying Propaganda. As discussed in the article President Duterte of the Philippines used non-tradition methods to fight the war on drugs, killing as a solution. Video games were made in a mockery to the situation and apple had to take down thousands of games from the store. One game in particular has the President in the back of the pickup truck running over drug criminals and shooting them as a game. The Philippine National Police encouraged this game and worked on making it real. "Cruz attributes its popularity to the fact that the game is just fun to play. “I asked my children when they started playing it: They loved running and avoiding those obstacles, and they loved the shooting. And they were learning,” he said.

“They told me that they saw those ads and they saw those signages inside the game. ‘Avoid drugs’, ‘drugs kill’, ‘say no to drugs’. I was happy when they told me that they saw those,” he said" (Malalad, Tomagan, 2018). They see this as a positive because entertainment such as video games can help make the propaganda more successful. How is this impactful in my life? Well as someone who frequently plays video games as well as watches TV for entertainment, those messages that are imbedded in the creation are going to be shown to me consistently which could influence my thoughts. Propaganda can be placed and shared anywhere because of the use of the internet.


Woman Suffrage is not a form of terrorism

While Terrorism is relevant in the form of propaganda because of the dangers and the ability to share the beliefs world wide, not all terrorism should be viewed as such. For example the woman's suffrage movement was viewed as feminist terrorism. The only reason that it was viewed as terrorism is because the ideas and protest did not align with the establishment and it threatened the power that was being held. The movie Suffragette filmed by Sarah Gavron in 2015 shows the prime example of how they viewed the movement as terrorism. Public protest and rallies were held to gather support of the movement. The terrorism in the movie were not violent, however protest that were held ended in violence because a higher power ordering to control the protestors and silence them. While it is important to understand that this is an example of what was to be believed as terrorism during the era, it is not in comparison to what we define as terrorism today. The movie that was recreated also sends an influencing message or could be seen as propaganda, to show that sometimes it is necessary to hold opposing beliefs to and organization and to push for a change especially if it is for equality



Opposing views are going to relay facts that support their ideas. They are also going to give information in a way that is twisted around their beliefs. A common term used is fake news, this is where false or disinformation is spread through the media. The reason that this is done is for a purpose, to gather support for a particular view. An example of this reminds me about Fox News and CNN, while both of them are media networks one values conservative republican values while the other value a democratic openminded value. Misinformation means false information that is given, while disinformation is false, however the person may believe their twisted version of the facts or event are true. News stations have the power to select certain facts or take things out of context. While it is not only New stations that are reporting false information, online articles are created with false information as well. Sometimes people create false article or on twitter create false content in order to gain attention. I've learned that it is so important to be careful of sources that are found on the internet. When looking at a source the most credible ones are scholarly sources that come from a university, it is also important to fact check certain things that seem untrue. A game called Bad News shows the entertainment side of creating fake news and the themes to help disinform the audience.


Businesses changing their model

When I first heard the term business model I had no clue what that meant, mainly because I do not understand the world of business, but to the extend of the purpose are to market successfully to gain profit for a company. When studying how propaganda plays a role in changing business models I learned that business model simply means a businesses plan to make money or be successful by studying the economy, social and cultural aspects as well as other context. Currently with the rise of social media, business has adapted their models to reflect those changes by using social media platforms. Marketing is such a crucial role in business. The internet has such an impact in influencing individuals that it makes propagandas success rate increase.


Propaganda can help society

It was hard to believe at first that propaganda could actually be beneficially towards society. With anti-semitism, Neo Nazi, illegal immigrant, anti-muslim propaganda it was refressing to see propaganda such as the #meetoo movement and now other campaigns such as no texting and driving. Since Propaganda is a tool to persuade certain ideas, propaganda in movements such as above the influence and no texting and driving show the impact on what it has on your life. ATT the phone company has created a video that interview people who have effected or been effected because of texting while driving. Messages that are shown influence society the dangers. A key for propaganda to be successful is to use emotion along with is. Emotion such as fear and being sad can be seen as a reason why people are intrigued by the message.


There were so many factors that played into what propaganda was and how it is used. Each topic were easily connected. One theme that I found was how social media played a huge role in the success of propaganda because of how it is able to be shared. Another theme that I discovered while learning about propaganda is that it uses emotion to persuade individuals. I also believe that it was importance to understand the strong influence that the media has on the messages that they use when reporting the news to us.



Arnaiz, S., Malalad, G. & Tomagan, J. (2018). Gamifying propaganda. Business World Online.

Excerpt from Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media. Director: Peter

Wintonick and Mark Achbar.

Fuchs, C. (2018). Propaganda 2.0: Herman and Chomsky’s Propaganda Model in the age of the Internet, big data and social media. In J. Pedro Carañana (Ed.), The propaganda model: Filtering perception and awareness (pp. 71-92). London: University of Westminster Press.

Noam Chomsky: The Five Filters of the Mass Media Machine. Director: Al Jazeera English, 2017.

Welch, D. (2003). Propaganda, definitions of. In N. J. Cull, D. H. Culbert, D. Welch, Propaganda and mass persuasion: a historical encyclopedia, 1500 to the present. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. 

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#COM416 Have you ever fallen down the internet rabbit hole for hours of meaningless entertainment. I think that's a yes to everyone especially when we were younger. I remember game sites that had stup