Propaganda is generally defined as “information, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote or publicize a particular political cause or point of view.” (see Wikipedia).
More than ever are we bombarded with fake news in all forms of media, e.g. facebook feeds, news articles, google searches, and others. The innocent or naïve reader most often doesn’t even realize they have fallen victim to this modern form of “propaganda.” Many examples of this type of fake news are now uncovered as such, e.g. “How Teens In The Balkans Are Duping Trump Supporters With Fake News”
A professor came up with a list “to help keep fake news out of facebook feeds”
Snopes has been around for a while to be used for story verification, but people seldom take the time to fact check information they read, watch, or repost.
Facebook is taking steps to ban fake news from its advertising network — but not its news feed, see this article
The push to limit fake news seems a bit late and after the fact, now that a new president-elect has been chosen by the electoral college. We will never know what percentage of people voted based on pure actual facts. Chances are high, that whether you are a Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump fan at one point or another you have been consciously or subconsciously influenced by a non-factual story.
Milman Parry in 1934, the year before he died, delivered his famous lecture from “The Historical Method in Literary Criticism”, to the Harvard Board of Overseers. “The important context of the lecture is signaled by its date, 1934, when “propaganda. . .social changes and confusion” were taking such hold of bewildered people throughout Europe and America. Stalin had assumed control of the Soviets in 1923, Hitler of the Weimar Republic in 1933, and a freewheeling American Capitalism had plunged the United States into a tormented social condition. Parry reflected on that situation:
The chief emotional ideas to which men seem to be turning at present. . .are those of nationality—for which they exploit race—and class. . . . Anyone who has followed the history of the use of propaganda for political purposes, with its extraordinary development of intensity and technique in the past fifty years [recognizes how] those who were directing that propaganda expressed their lack of concern, or even contempt, for what actually was so, or actually had been so.”*
This speech was held in 1934, but easily could have been held this year pre-and post-presidential election 2016.
We are always warned to learn from history and we are determined to, but history sneakily repeats itself over and over again, to an unassuming population, because the repeat presents itself in new and different forms (in this case propaganda spread via facebook, google, and other news media). Once the citizen realizes they have been duped (and history has repeated itself), it can be very difficult to affect change. But recognizing one has been influenced by false news (or propaganda) is the first step towards change.