Recognizing Online Propaganda, Bias, and Advertising


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While their motives aren’t always evil, people who bend the truth don’t usually do so for the greater good, either. The online world is no exception—in fact, it’s a paradise for purveyors of hype, pseudo-journalism, and intellectual snake oil.

This video explores ways to identify bias and propaganda on the Internet and sift through the various influences, such as political or corporate interests, that may be behind some Web content. Spotlighting key aspects of propaganda and bias-driven writing, such as the use of glittering generalities, name-calling, or card-stacking, the program also presents important tips for differentiating between advertising and genuinely useful, scholarly material—a task made increasingly difficult by cleverly disguised sponsorship. Web savvy is further developed through discussions of URL suffixes (.com, .org, etc.) and what they indicate.

Video Segments

 1. Introduction: Media and Information Literacy (03:57) 

People are bombarded by information designed to sway them one way or another into thinking or doing things. Information literacy is the ability to consume and create credible, verified information, and the ability to distinguish that information from raw information, opinion, gossip, bias, and propaganda.
2. Propaganda (03:02) 
Propaganda has emotional appeal; it is controlled by powerful individuals or groups with enough control over mass communication to send out a unified message and block dissent; and the perpetrators often remain hidden.
3. Propaganda: Strategies (02:44) 
There is a variety of strategies people use to influence others. These include glittering generalities, transfer technique, name-calling, testimonials, plain folks propaganda, card stacking, and bandwagon.
4. Bias (02:34) 
Compared to propaganda's agenda, bias is somewhat less deliberate. Journalists are supposed to filter out bias, yet even news from reputable organizations can be biased. Critical thinking is required to recognize bias.
5. Website Evaluation (01:38) 
On the Internet, one can find many organizations with websites from a variety of domains. URLs have suffixes such as .com, .net, .edu, .org, .gov, and .mil. These domains are useful filters in the search for credible website information.
6. Website Target Audiences (01:22) 
It is important to recognize which audiences websites are targeting. Does the message appeal to certain biases? Does it use race, gender, or class stereotypes to make its argument?
7. Advertising (04:37) 
Media comes to audiences in many forms. Its content is paid for by advertisers and is specifically targeted to demographics. Digital media blurs the boundaries between ads and entertainment. Consumers must determine what is authentic and real.
8. Fast Facts to and Terms to Remember (02:07) 
Wise consumers should know and understand terms and concepts in online advertising: propaganda, bias, advertising content and sponsorship, information literacy, and consumer responsibility.
9. Credits: Recognizing Online Propaganda, Bias, and Advertising (00:52) 
Credits: Recognizing Online Propaganda, Bias, and Advertising

Grade: 9-12

Recognizing Online Propaganda, Bias, and Advertising (DVD)
© 2011
Time: 21 Minutes

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