Propaganda

Merriam-Webster defines propaganda as “the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person” or “ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one's cause or to damage an opposing cause; also : a public action having such an effect”.

Propaganda is its own field of study and entire libraries full of literature have been devoted to its study. This page is meant only as a quick overview and definition for the purposes of this site.

When bias shifts to the extreme, it becomes propaganda or at least indistinguishable from propaganda. It is worth remembering that something does not have to be untrue for it to be propaganda. Facts sufficiently infused with exaggeration, hyperbole, speculation or omitting important related facts are the most common type of propaganda.

In creating this site, I've omitted most sites rated that were ranked “right” or “left” as opposed to 'right center' or 'left center' by Media Bias Fact Check; Also omitted are sites rated 'questionable sources', 'satire' and 'conspiracy-pseudoscience'. I have done this for two reasons; first these sites are most likely to straddle or even jump right over the line of propaganda; second, even when these sites are completely accurate, taking a hard right or left wing line can make it difficult or impossible to find common ground with others who do not share your preferred ideology.

It should also be noted that there is a great deal of overlap between sites in the categories I listed (right, left, pseudoscience etc) and Melissa Zimdars list of “False, misleading, clickbait-y and satirical ‘news’ sources”.

While tabloids and various ideological propaganda publications have been around for as long as print has been widely available they have gained new life on the internet. Extreme and shocking headlines are more likely to get noticed and shared on social media. Frequently, the people sharing these stories have not checked the source or even read the article.

This in turn has helped lead to the rise of 'fake news'. Individuals who have no interest in politics and no horse in the race will create “news stories” for the purpose of having them clicked on and shared. The goal is not to share information or ideas, it is simply to generate ad revenue from clicks. Some of these sites attempt to make themselves look like real and well-known news sites, some will put a disclaimer somewhere on the site stating that it is satire. In any case, some of the most extreme propaganda being distributed online, from the right and the left, is being created by people with financial rather than political ambitions.

None of this is good news for people trying to distribute valid information, maintain a healthy democracy or promote civil society.