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  • Anthony Delasanta

10 Interesting Propaganda Pieces

1. Blatant Lies Are Effective Propaganda

Lies are an effective form propaganda as the result of something called the firehose of falsehoods. This is defined by high volume, repetition paired with no commitment to objective reality and no commitment to consistency. This propaganda is supposed to be complete biased and unfounded and this blatant lie gets circulated in major media outlets. When Russian bots say that Hillary Clinton is running a prostitution ring and Vegas they don’t expect supporters of Hillary Clinton to believe in the lie they want the audience just want it to circulate. This brings us back to the repetition and volume aspect of the lie. The more ridiculous it is the more media outlets will circulate it and the more people will see it. This type of fake news may not convert people from the left to the right but it will galvanize people that want to believe in the lie.

People that want to believe Hillary runs a prostitution ring are inclined to latch onto this lie. Some people on the fence about Hillary may see this information and find some truth in it and convert to the other side. The point of the lie isn’t to flip large swaths of people but is used to get small groups in major countries to switch sides. This is what wins extremely close elections 5-10,000 votes in several counties flipping states from blue to red or vice versa.

There is an even darker side to lies as propaganda as well. When Vladimir Putin the president of the Russian Federation invaded the Crimea the international community called out Russia. There had been unmarked Russian military technology as well as men in green suits which entered the Crimea and forced the Ukrainian military to disperse themselves. Putin replied to the international community by saying that there military that invaded the Crimea was not Russian. They were “little green men” who rose up against the Ukrainian government which was oppressing the people of Russian descent in the area. Putin pushed a narrative where the Russian government was not at fault in any way in fact they were just assisting in the democratic process of the Crimea re-joining Russia. A mock election was held and Russia to this day still controls the Crimea. This was because Putin successfully circulated with confidence that the Russian military didn’t invade a sovereign European nation and this gave the world just enough doubt not to take military action against them. This was the first modern instance of blatant lies being an effective means of international and national diplomacy.

Maza, C. (2018, August 31). Why obvious lies make great propaganda. Retrieved May 3, 2019, from https://www.vox.com/2018/8/31/17804104/strikethrough-lies-propaganda-trump-putin

2. Conspiracy Theories Can Be Used As Diplomacy

The first year of the twenty tens Russia launched RT America which was a continuation of their own state run media outlet Russia Today. RT America was tasked by the Russian government to relate to the American audience by finding fringe stories “in the backyard” of the U.S. One of the first reports that followed the launch of Russia Today was ‘911 Reasons Why 9/11 Was Probably and Inside Job’. Russia today contains highly viewed programs Breaking the Set or The Truth-seeker are designed to use conspiratorial narratives to create dissent. The show uses “populist” experts and host to drive nationalist right wing agendas within the network.

A host of these shows use the American conspiracy theory community to draw from. There is a long list of conspiracy theorist the most notable of these being Alex Jones of InfoWars.com who has been a correspondent of RT America in the past. This type of rhetoric and collection of fringe media is defined in the cited article as conspiracy culture’ which lets the kremlin mix the weaknesses of American society with absurd allegations against the government and specific politicians. The push the narrative of an antigovernment and antiestablishment media body while they themselves represent one of the most repressive and totalitarian governments on planet earth.

The most dangerous part about RT America is how it used its established conspiracy culture to undermine the United States. There are typical American conspiracies which are run through RT America which seem to be based within the general United States conspiracy culture. However layered into this the Kremlin seeks to tell a story of an evil American government which seeks to undermine not just the freedom of America but the whole world. The Kremlin is often characterized as a beacon of hope which fights an evil secretive American government and stand up for the people of the world. This is complete fantasy but the professionalism of the medium makes it an incredibly effective source of propaganda.

Yablokov, I. (2015). Conspiracy Theories as a Russian Public Diplomacy Tool: The Case of

Russia Today (RT). Retrieved May 3, 2019, from https://www.ucg.ac.me/skladiste/blog_10134/objava_20166/fajlovi/Russia Today.pdf

3. Turning Propaganda in the form of activism


An Ad for Kony 2012

The Kony 2012 film was nothing but war propaganda which was aimed to make massive amounts of money for the invisible children's charity. The film “credibly” depicts Kony and the LRA of kidnapping children and turning them into sex slaves as well as murdering tens of thousands or people. They wanted to use the previously stated propaganda tactics of repetition to spread the narrative which they set in the film. They wanted the world to know that Kony was a relevant murder and started an army to cause terror and violence. The tried to evoke emotion in the viewer to push for military action against the LRA.

When the Ugandan military was pressed to do something about the LRA issue they said that they had been training to wipe the LRA out for decades. However the army isn’t even in Uganda anymore and mostly operates in the southern parts of south Sudan and the northeastern conger as well as the central African republic. They went on to make the following statement…

"The LRA is a raggedy bunch of a few hundreds at most, poorly equipped, poorly armed, and poorly trained," writes Mahmood Mamdaniin the Ugandan Daily Monitor. Mamdani, who grew up in Uganda, is director of the Makerere Institute of Social Research in Kampala and professor of government at Columbia University. "In short, the LRA is no military power."

The narrative put forth in the video made Kony out to be a military force that needed to be immediately removed from office and urged the viewer to donate to the charity and share the video. The reality was that Kony wasn’t the force that he had been in the past and wasn’t operating in the fashion which was depicted in the film.

Watkins, T., & Watkins, T. (2012, March 14). Kony 2012's Old-Fashioned War Propaganda. Retrieved May 3, 2019, from https://reason.com/2012/03/14/kony-2012s-old-fashioned-war-propaganda/

4. Social Media is a great way to get propaganda out

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria uses professionally produced propaganda to recruit new troops through different social media outlets. The social media propaganda is extremely effective and was successful at getting even U.S. citizens to commit acts of terror against their own country or even drop everything and move to Iraq to join the ground troops. The United states army even believe that they are losing the battle against the ISIS propaganda machine because of the sheer volume of online propaganda. The number of propaganda outnumbers the government resources to remove it from the internet.

Allendorfer, W. H., & Herring, S. C. (2019). ISIS vs. the U.S. government: A war of online video propaganda. Retrieved May 3, 2019, from https://firstmonday.org/article/view/6336/5165

5. Social Networks allow for easy ways to plan meeting up

The Militant Neo Nazi Group Called "The Base"

This vice article talks about how a self-proclaimed Neo Nazi by the name of Norman Spear who created an online platform to unify other neo Nazi’s to help plan for the coming race war. He states that he is an Iraq and Afghan war veteran but has failed to give any proof of service on the issue. Despite this lack of transparency this white nationalist has a huge online following through his white supremacist network which he calls “The Base”. In online chat rooms white supremacist are allowed to network and plan potential terror attacks against minority groups. It contains “An extensive online library contains a trove of manuals with instructions on lone wolf terror-tactics, gunsmithing, data mining, interrogation tactics, counter-surveillance techniques, bomb making, chemical weapons creation, and guerilla warfare.” This is incredibly disturbing but also effective in spreading the white supremacist narrative.

Makuch, B., & Lamoureux, M. (2018, November 20). Neo-Nazis Are Organizing Secretive Paramilitary Training Across America. Retrieved May 3, 2019, from https://via.hypothes.is/https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/a3mexp/neo-nazis-are-organizing-secretive-paramilitary-training-across-america

6. The best propaganda is what people don’t know they are watching

Iasmin Omar Atathe author and artist of the article The Anti-Palestinian propaganda you don’t know you’re consuming states that “American news programs often downplay the crimes of the Israeli government while conjuring an image of perpetual violence carried out by Palestinians.” He argues that films that depict the Palestinians as being militant terrorist are critically acclaimed and well received because the enforce the narrative which Americans want to believe, That the Israelis are the victims of middle eastern aggression. This narrative was created to cover up the fact that Israel split up several middle eastern countries and continually tries to undermine the governments of the region. Israel kills far more Palestinians than Palestinians kill Israelis and Palestinians are far poorer as a result of Israeli embargos and occupation.

Ata, I. O. (2019, January 18). The Anti-Palestinian Propaganda You Don't Know You're Consuming. Retrieved May 3, 2019, from https://thenib.com/depictions-of-palestinians-in-media

7. Hollywood is being used to support wars

The US military has “influenced over 1,800 movies and TV shows” because of a major loophole in the filmmaking process. When the a film director or producer wants to use military equipment for a film they have to give the script of the film to a “entertainment liaison.” This liaison is tasked with censoring unwanted Hollywood scripts and making them more pro-military. The military doesn’t have to help filmmakers so they pick and choose the ones that are cooperative with them. They censor films that have dialogue that they don’t approve of as well as actions that the characters perform. Those who don’t pander to the military lose the military goods. The military enforces this by forcing Hollywood to sign contracts with the military to hold them to the approved script.

Documents Expose How Hollywood Promotes War On Behalf Of The Pentagon, CIA, & NSA. (2017). Retrieved May 3, 2019, from https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-05/documents-expose-how-hollywood-promotes-war-behalf-pentago-cia-nsa

8. Instagram is being used as a platform to reach large audiences and manipulate their opinions on certain subjects. Palak Joshi is an example of someone trying to be a famous Instagram influencer. He regularly post pictures of “a shiny white box emblazoned with the red logo for the Chinese phone manufacturer OnePlus and the number six, shot from above on a concrete background.” The post contained similar presentation to a sponsored post from the OnePlus company. It even resembled the companies official announcement for its new android phone which was releasing at the same time of the post. However the content posted on the Instagram profile was not sponsored. Her followers believed that the content was sponsored but in reality it was done to make the profile appear to be more legitimate.

This phenomena is a product of the era of Instagram influencers. As Instagram grew to be an extremely legitimate platform for advertising the social influencer became a real career and people sought out to gain followers and prestige and make money from there followers. This career choice is hard because having thousands of followers doesn’t necessarily correlate to getting an advertising contract. People often remove their older photos and redefine themselves to gain followers. When they reach quadruple digits they believe that they can seek out a sponsor. But getting this deal is hard, brands like a certain level of professionalism and like any job they enjoy hiring people with prior experience. The strategy of fake it till you make it is an attempt for the up and coming influencers to “skip the middle man.” They realize that if they come across as looking legitimate as a sponsored influencer they can gain reputation and followers and hopefully gain real sponsors in the process.

Lorenz, T. (2018, December 18). Rising Instagram Stars Are Posting Fake Sponsored Content. Retrieved May 3, 2019, from https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/12/influencers-are-faking-brand-deals/578401/

9.The Many Definitions of Propaganda

Propaganda is a term which many have a general understanding of but cannot give a solid definition of. I have set out to elaborate the definitions of propaganda in simple terms so that the average reader can understand what propaganda is and how to use it. White propaganda truthfully addresses where it comes from and is typically accurate information even if there is a bias involved. This is the most common form of propaganda and can be compared to a presidential administration posting accurate information of growing jobs. Gray Propaganda could potential site is source but could just as likely not identify its source. The information may not entirely be truthful with “The objective of gray propaganda is to advance viewpoints that are in the interest of the originator.” This type of propaganda is not as transparent as white propaganda and seeks to present itself through the lens of neutral media outlets so that it comes across as real information. Black propaganda completely covers up the its source. Gray propaganda may not give its source out but Black propaganda will make its source completely false in an attempt to become more legitimate. Its goal is to appear to have originated from a hostile source, in order to cause that source embarrassment, to damage its prestige, to undermine its credibility, or to get it to take actions that it might not otherwise” which is an extremely sinister motive.

However this grouping of definitions for propaganda isn’t entirely agreed upon by experts. It serves a baseline to view propaganda generally but it can take many forms other that the ones listed. These definitions also become problematic because they are defined by the source and motive of the propaganda not by the content of the propaganda. Some experts define propaganda as being soft propaganda and hard propaganda. Soft propaganda is like white propaganda, the source is known, the information is truthful and wants “informed support from a large audience.” It seeks to work in the interest of its source but keeps the well-being and regard of the audience in mind. Hard Propaganda is like black propaganda and has a source which is either “unclear” or “unknown” The information is usually “inaccurate, false or deceitful” and wants to trick the audience instead of giving them real information. The propagandist has not regard for the audience and wants nothing but to further their own agenda. This is done by “calls on false authority, lies, fabrications, exaggerations deceit, coercion and disinformation.

Defining Propaganda. (2015, July 15). Retrieved May 3, 2019, from https://ideologicalart.com/defining-propaganda/

10.VIEW: Suffragette, a 2015 film by Sarah Gavron

The film suffragette is about a militaristic feminist group which sought to earn the right of women to vote in England. The director of the film said that “Actually, I think what was incredibly humbling was I’d taken just as my right that I have my vote without reflecting on how hard it was to gain,” she said. Ms. Morgan added that she hopes that core message resonates with women across the globe and promotes equality.” However the film depicts terrorism as a noble act which was necessary for women to earn the right to vote. It displays violence as an integral part of getting noticed. The framing this terrorism isn’t traditional, the characters are attractive white women which is why it is so effective. If the characters were Arabic the movie would be received much differently. The director of the film somehow made the audience believe that terrorism is something that promotes equality.

'Suffragette' writer blends fact, fiction in film. (n.d.). Retrieved May 3, 2019, from https://www.post-gazette.com/ae/movies/2015/11/11/Suffragette-writer-blends-fact-fiction-in-film/stories/201511110029



'Suffragette' writer blends fact, fiction in film. (n.d.). Retrieved May 3, 2019, from https://www.post-gazette.com/ae/movies/2015/11/11/Suffragette-writer-blends-fact-fiction-in-film/stories/201511110029

Allendorfer, W. H., & Herring, S. C. (2019). ISIS vs. the U.S. government: A war of online video propaganda. Retrieved May 3, 2019, from https://firstmonday.org/article/view/6336/5165

Ata, I. O. (2019, January 18). The Anti-Palestinian Propaganda You Don't Know You're Consuming. Retrieved May 3, 2019, from https://thenib.com/depictions-of-palestinians-in-media

Defining Propaganda. (2015, July 15). Retrieved May 3, 2019, from https://ideologicalart.com/defining-propaganda/

Documents Expose How Hollywood Promotes War On Behalf Of The Pentagon, CIA, & NSA. (2017). Retrieved May 3, 2019, from https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-07-05/documents-expose-how-hollywood-promotes-war-behalf-pentago-cia-nsa

Lorenz, T. (2018, December 18). Rising Instagram Stars Are Posting Fake Sponsored Content. Retrieved May 3, 2019, from https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2018/12/influencers-are-faking-brand-deals/578401/

Makuch, B., & Lamoureux, M. (2018, November 20). Neo-Nazis Are Organizing Secretive Paramilitary Training Across America. Retrieved May 3, 2019, from https://via.hypothes.is/https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/a3mexp/neo-nazis-are-organizing-secretive-paramilitary-training-across-america

Maza, C. (2018, August 31). Why obvious lies make great propaganda. Retrieved May 3, 2019, from https://www.vox.com/2018/8/31/17804104/strikethrough-lies-propaganda-trump-putin

Watkins, T., & Watkins, T. (2012, March 14). Kony 2012's Old-Fashioned War Propaganda. Retrieved May 3, 2019, from https://reason.com/2012/03/14/kony-2012s-old-fashioned-war-propaganda/

Yablokov, I. (2015). Conspiracy Theories as a Russian Public Diplomacy Tool: The Case of Russia Today (RT). Retrieved May 3, 2019, from https://www.ucg.ac.me/skladiste/blog_10134/objava_20166/fajlovi/Russia Today.pdf

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