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Definitions[]

General[]

Propaganda is

[a]ny form of adversary communication, especially of a biased or misleading nature, designed to influence the opinions, emotions, attitudes, or behavior of any group in order to benefit the sponsor, either directly or indirectly.[1]
[a]ny information, ideas, doctrines, or special appeals in support of national objectives, designed to influence the opinions, emotions, attitudes, or behavior of any specified group in order to benefit the sponsor, either directly or indirectly.[2]

"There is no commonly accepted definition for what constitutes propaganda. To some, it connotes the spread of false information from a governmental source, intended to have persuasive effects. For others, propaganda is merely any promotional material related to organizations both public and commercial. For purposes of this discussion, propaganda is defined as the intentional propagation of an idea or narrative in order to influence and persuade a target audience. Although it may contain factual information, propaganda is intended to persuade rather than merely to inform. By this definition, an organization or government communicating its intent, policies, and values through speeches, press releases, and other public affairs can be considered propaganda. Some forms of propaganda present selective information that is intended to manage perceptions of the truth. Other forms may be unverifiable rhetorical devices, such as slogans, illustrations, editorials, and opinion pieces that lack factual content. These communications can create perceptions that affect behavior and steer decisionmakers toward a certain course of action."[3]

Terrorism[]

Propaganda

generally takes the form of multimedia communications providing ideological or practical instruction, explanations, justifications or promotion of terrorist activities. These may include virtual messages, presentations, magazines, treatises, audio and video files and video games developed by terrorist organizations or sympathizers.[4]

Overview[]

As opposed to impartially providing information, propaganda, in its most basic sense, presents information primarily to influence an audience. Propaganda often presents facts selectively (thus possibly lying by omission) to encourage a particular synthesis, or uses loaded messages to produce an emotional rather than rational response to the information presented. The desired result is a change of the attitude toward the subject in the target audience to further a political agenda. Propaganda can be used as a form of political warfare.

While the term propaganda has acquired a strongly negative connotation by association with its most manipulative and jingoistic examples, propaganda in its original sense is neutral, and may also be construed to refer to uses which are generally held to be relatively benign or innocuous, such as public health recommendations, signs encouraging citizens to participate in a census or election, or messages encouraging persons to report crimes to the police, among others.

References[]

  1. U.S. Department of Defense, Joint Pub. 1–02: DOD Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms (Nov. 8, 2010, as amended through May 15, 2011) (full-text).
  2. Glossary of Counterinsurgency Terms, at 2.
  3. Considering the Source: Varieties of COVID-19 Information, at 1.
  4. The Use of the Internet for Terrorist Purposes, at 3.

See also[]


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