Examples of Internet Propaganda: A Deep Dive

3 min read
Jun 3, 2024 9:33:50 AM
Examples of Internet Propaganda: A Deep Dive

The internet has become a place where people and organizations try to influence others using misleading information to shape public opinion and push specific ideas. This kind of manipulation, called propaganda, has been around for a long time, but the internet gives it a powerful new platform.

This article explains what propaganda is, provides examples of how it's used, and talks about why it can be a problem when it happens online.

What is the Goal of Propaganda?

At its core, propaganda aims to mold public perception and influence behavior, serving the interests of specific groups. Whether it's political entities, corporations, or special interest groups, the objective remains consistent: to shape public opinion to benefit the propagandist. This manipulation can be geared towards supporting a cause, endorsing a political candidate, or promoting government policies.

Seven Common Propaganda Techniques

Propaganda employs a variety of tactics to achieve its goals. Here are seven classic techniques that have been adapted for the Internet age:

  1. Name-calling involves using negative words to create fear and loathing in people's minds for a person, idea, or institution. Examples include labeling an opponent as a "fascist" or "radical" to discredit them without addressing the substance of their arguments.
  2. Glittering Generalities: Unlike name-calling, this technique uses positive phrases with different connotations but lacks concrete definitions. Phrases like "freedom lover" or "true patriot" evoke emotion and align audiences with a cause or product without providing substantiating evidence.
  3. Transfer: This technique projects positive or negative qualities (praise or blame) of a person, entity, object, or value (an individual, group, organization, nation, patriotism, etc.) to another to make the second more acceptable or to discredit it. It often involves symbols and imagery to connect an emotional response or authority with something unrelated.
  4. Testimonial: Here, a public figure or a celebrity endorses a product, policy, or political candidate. If someone respected suggests that a particular product is good or a specific policy is correct, the audience might be inclined to agree.
  5. Plain-folk: A method where speakers present themselves as average Joe, making it look like their views are those of the ordinary person and that they are also part of the crowd. This is seen in political campaigns where candidates talk about their humble beginnings.
  6. Card-stacking: This involves only presenting positive information about an idea or proposal and omitting information contrary to it. It is used to sway the audience by presenting only partial information and not presenting the other side of the argument.
  7. Bandwagon: This encourages people to think that since everyone else is doing something, they should too, or risk being left out or losing. The bandwagon appeal appeals that one should join in because others are also doing so.

Is Internet Propaganda Dangerous?

The internet amplifies the effects of propaganda by facilitating rapid dissemination and enabling manipulators to reach vast audiences at minimal cost. This can be particularly dangerous because it allows the extensive spread of misinformation, which can be used to manipulate public opinion, sow division, and even incite violence. The anonymity and reach of the internet also make it a powerful tool for state and non-state actors to conduct influence operations against other nations, impacting democratic processes and national security.

Moreover, the algorithms underpinning social media platforms often exacerbate the problem by promoting more engaging content—which usually means more sensational and polarizing—further skewing public perception and creating echo chambers.

Key Takeaways

While propaganda is not new, the internet has transformed its reach and impact, making it an even more powerful tool for those looking to shape public opinion and policy. As we navigate this new reality, we must be aware of propagandists' techniques and critically evaluate the information we consume online.

Are you struggling with harmful online content or the impact of internet propaganda on your personal or professional reputation? Contact NewReputation today for expert online reputation management solutions.

We specialize in countering misinformation and restoring the truth about individuals and businesses.

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