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Evaluating Online Information

This guide will provide opportunities for viewers to work through the various techniques and steps of evaluating online information such as things found on websites and social media.

Propaganda - What is it?

Merriam-Webster defines propaganda as "ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one's cause or to damage an opposing cause".

Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Propaganda. In dictionary. Retrieved July 20, 2020, from

Watch this short video to learn more about propaganda.

Propaganda: An Animated Comic from the graphic novel World Domination by Margreet De Heer.

Propaganda originally means: Advertising ideas and activities but over time, it has become manipulative information to influence public opinion.

An ancient example of propaganda is the inscription of Behistun, which is 2,500 years old! It describes how King Darius crushed his rebelling opponents. It says, “Of course I was fighting the good fight, while my enemies were treacherous criminals!”

The word propaganda dates from 1622, when the congregation De Propaganda Fide was founded by Pope Gregory XV. He stated, “The congregation for promoting the faith, the Roman Catholic faith, of course!”

Propaganda as we know it today started with the rise of mass media such as newspapers, and later radio and television. Colonialism is a splendid thing, isn’t it? Sure! It says in the paper those savages really benefit from our superior culture!

Propaganda, no matter for what cause, plays to our emotions… Picture of escaped slave Peter Gordon used in many anti-slavery pamphlets around 1865. Horrendous! Let me see! Are there more pictures? Ooooh!!!

The intentional use of widespread propaganda first happened during World War I. Show how heroic we are and depict the enemy as a vile brute!

Edward Bernays is called the Father of Propaganda. He wrote this influential book, Propaganda: The Public Mind in the Making. The masses are irrational and dangerous and must be manipulated!

In Russia, communism made use of agitprop, propaganda to educate and agitate. In 1934, we built the biggest airplane ever! With an onboard printing press, darkroom and radio station to spread propaganda all over the country!

Adolf Hitler saw the importance of propaganda and appointed a ministry to deploy it… the Reichsministerium Fur Volkserklarung und propaganda. Goebbels, you lead it! I make use of comics, parades, movies, school books.

During the cold war, East and West attached each other through all kinds of propaganda.

Propaganda is not only used for politics, it can be used to promote any cause, good or bad.

Now that the media are more widespread than ever, propaganda is often difficult to recognize. Stories about how bad things are are good for ratings. Information that gets repeated everywhere is not necessarily true.

Opinions on social media get confused with actual facts.

How can you avoid being manipulated? Gather information from different sources. Be alert when you hear a lot of sensational words. Don’t be too hasty to form an opinion. Use your common sense.