The Dark(er) Side of Media: Crash Course Media Literacy #10

The Dark(er) Side of Media: Crash Course Media Literacy #10


Say you have an evil twin. They’re just like you but…different – somehow
evil-er. Maybe they have a fancy twirling mustache
and are just constantly listening to emo music. Maybe they hate chocolate and fun and bubbles
and the greatest film of all time, Titanic. What if your evil twin not only looked and
sounded just like you, but pretended to be you. They stole your family and your friends and
your significant other and your favorite pair
of shoes. They persuaded everyone they were the real
you and you were the evil twin. And then you were left all confused and alone
and you didn’t even get a fancy twirling mustache. Sounds like a nightmare, right? We’ve talked all about persuasive
techniques and advertising and public relations
during this course. But we haven’t talked about their evil twins:
propaganda, misinformation and disinformation. These are the big baddies of the media world,
the villains you really need to watch out for. You could call them the dark side of media. Though, that would make advertisements
that sell you things you probably don’t really
need the “bright side.” Let’s go with the darker side. Either way, understanding these evil twins
in their many forms is mission critical. There’s no way to be media literate without
them. But to understand evil you’ll need to think
evil. Are you ready? [Theme Music] Remember, advertisements are public notices
promoting a product, event or service. Public relations is the management of the
relationship between the public and a brand. Both advertisers and PR people use campaigns, or
planned, systematic efforts to intentionally persuade
us of certain beliefs or to act a certain way. For example, a company that makes headphones
might launch an advertising campaign where a
dozen celebrities are filmed and photographed
using their product. These may all be released at the same time
and in different locations so that everyone sees
their favorite celeb wearing them. This campaign wants you to like their product
because you like their spokespeople. Or, a public relations firm might start a
publicity campaign to get their client all
over the media. Like when your favorite actor is in a new movie
and suddenly they’re singing carpool karaoke
and dancing with The Roots and reading mean
tweets about themselves on TV. This campaign wants you to be aware that this
star has a new project coming out. Hopefully you’ll want to experience it,
too. Campaigns that saturate the media landscape
with a united theme and message can be really
effective. They can convince us to buy new phones and
stop buying cigarettes and vote for one candidate
over another in the next election. One of the key components of a campaign is
its coordination. For a campaign to have the biggest impact
requires multiple people working in tandem
to accomplish a cohesive goal. But what happens when that same technique
– the widespread coordination of people bent
on shifting the media landscape – what happens when that’s taken up for evil? That’s where propaganda comes in. Propaganda is information used to promote
a particular point of view, change behavior
or motivate action. Sometimes that information is facts and
ideas, sometimes it’s opinions, or intentionally
misleading or biased. Though technically propaganda itself isn’t inherently
evil, it is usually associated with bad actors. That’s because it’s often used to manipulate
the public into things they might not naturally do, like supporting a war or believing harmful
stereotypes about others. And most typically, the people doing the coordinated
propaganda campaigns are part of governments. During World War I, the U.S. Committee on
Public Information was formed for just such a
purpose – to produce pro-war propaganda. In World War II it was the Office of War Information. They made films and posters and advertisements
and more to promote patriotism and nationalism. The government even teamed up with advertisers
to get them to push patriotic propaganda. The propaganda focused on fulfilling one’s
national duty to join the war or save food for
the war or buy bonds to support it. It was like peer pressure with beautifully
decorated posters. That famous image of Uncle Sam saying “I
want you for the U.S. army”? Oh yeah, that’s propaganda. And it was so good they brought it back for
World War II. Rosie the Riveter?
Oh yeah, she is too. Sorry if I just ruined your favorite Halloween
costume. Other types of wartime propaganda make the
opposition seem violent or barbaric to stoke
fear in the enemy. U.S. propaganda during World War II sometimes
featured racist depictions of Japanese people
for this purpose. Similarly, in Germany the Nazi party sent
around anti-Semitic propaganda before and
during World War II. If propaganda is used to psychologically persuade, disinformation is used to confuse and distract
the intended audience using deliberately false or
misleading information. Disinformation campaigns can be used to
poke and prod opposing groups and heighten
the tension between them. And just because these campaigns aren’t being
done by official government propaganda offices
doesn’t mean they’re small scale, or ineffective. With the reach of the internet, and the ability to
make digital media, people all over the globe can
organize themselves for coordinated campaigns. By working together, flooding different media
outlets with carefully crafted messages, a group
can drastically change public information. During the 2016 U.S. election, Russian operatives
purchased misleading and extreme Facebook ads
targeted to both liberal and conservative American voters. They even appeared to organize both sides
of a protest in front of a Texas Islamic Center. So sometimes disinformation can work like
propaganda, trying to get people to act. But more often, what disinformation is best
at is confusing the facts of an issue. Disinformation can whip up a smokescreen,
and disperse the attention of the masses. This style of disinformation can also be used
to excuse or dismiss bad actions or behavior. In Beijing in 1989, students led pro-democracy
demonstrations in the capital’s Tiananmen Square. The Chinese government responded violently,
killing hundreds or even thousands of peaceful
protestors. Why do I say hundreds or thousands? Because the government stymied efforts to
make a full accounting of the dead. Since the massacre, the Chinese government has called reports of the events misleading and suggested the Western media is exaggerating it just to demonize them. They still censor information about it today. When powerful governments become set on
disinformation campaigns, it can be difficult for
its citizens to discover the truth. It can be even more difficult for outsiders
to get well-sourced information, too. Disinformation can even include magic tricks,
to – well, kind of. Let’s head into the Thought Bubble for this. Some disinformation is full of lies, like we
said – but some of it is full of distraction, too. The art of active misdirection is often used
by political pundits and celebrity press agents. They’ll plant stories in the press about their
party or client or the opposition to distract from
something they don’t want to talk about. It’s like how a magician does that funny
thing with his hand to distract you from
wherever he got that rabbit. Or take, for example, this headline:
Pope Francis Shocks World, Endorses
Donald Trump for President. That sounds kind of wild, right? The Pope never gets involved in US politics like
that – an attention-grabbing headline for sure. The thing is, this headline is purely fabricated
news. Published in July 2016 by WTOE 5 News, a
now defunct website, it was entirely made up
by an unknown writer. The site was actually part of a network
of websites that published more than 750
similarly made up articles. Why?
Who would do such a thing? Well, apparently lots of Macedonian teenagers
distracted angry, partisan American voters with
stuff like this leading up to the 2016 election. Magician Sam Sharpe actually describes this
distraction as lowering our attention vigilance. By slightly shifting our gaze to something else, we’re
lulled into an atmosphere of susceptibility, making
us more gullible to improbable situations. When we find ourselves in an atmosphere we
usually trust, like Facebook for example, we’re
less likely to question the info we find. Plus, many of us only read headlines – 59% of
links shared on social media aren’t even clicked. We just share away without a second thought. Tricking us is like taking candy from a baby,
apparently. The moral of the story: always double check
the veracity of information and sources we see,
lest we become victims of misdirection. Thanks, Thought Bubble! The key thing to understand is just how coordinated
disinformation can be today. Not just a white lie told in a forum post,
but whole networks of people working to
create an alternate reality. One of the reasons disinformation is so effective
online is because of the existence of a related
phenomenon: Misinformation. This is a different beast altogether – misinformation
is unintentionally inaccurate information. Accidents, or mistakes in reporting. Often the most egregious examples of misinformation
happen during a breaking news situation. When there’s a lot of information floating around
during a crisis and members of the media want to be
the first to report on the news, mistakes happen. They get it wrong. They don’t double check.
They make a typo. Reputable news organizations will issue a
correction when they’ve made a mistake like this. Sometimes misinformation becomes a pretty
funny story. Like that time The Chicago Tribune printed
150,000 newspapers saying that Thomas Dewey had
beat Harry S. Truman in the 1948 election. Spoiler alert: he lost.
Awkward. Misinformation has always been a problem. As long as there have been news sources, there
have been errors and corrections and updates. But our new online media environment changes
how those mistakes get made, and the impact
they have on people. Increasingly, people get information from a
variety of sources online, often shared and
mixed together over social media, rather than from a small number of
central institutions. It can make for some laughable mistakes, but
the darker side of media is no joke. We base important decisions on the media every
day, from what we’ll buy to who we’ll vote for. Bad information can lead to bad decisions
with serious consequences. Disinformation, misinformation, and propaganda
are even easier to spread in the digital age. Media literacy scholar Renee Hobbs has even
said that today, “Everyone, it seems, has become
a propagandist.” Weeding through it all can be hard to do. Especially if the initial misinformation goes
viral. Once a consumer hears or reads misinformation,
it’s often hard to correct it in their minds, even when
confronted with the right information. Plus, once we’ve deemed a source trustworthy or
safe, it’s hard for us to even criticize their content. Our brains are pretty stubborn. What’s the best way to determine if what
you’re seeing is from the darker side of media? Don’t worry, we’re going to walk you through
it in our next episode on media skills. Until then, I’m Jay Smooth and this is Crash
Course Media Literacy. Crash Course Media Literacy is filmed in the
Dr. Cheryl C. Kinney Studio in Missoula, MT. It’s made with the help of all of these nice people,
and our animation team is Thought Cafe. Crash Course is a Complexly production. If you want to imagining the world complexly
with us, check out some of our other channels like
Eons, Animal Wonders, and SciShow Psych. If you’d like to keep Crash Course free for everyone,
forever, you can support the series at Patreon, a crowdfunding platform that allows
you to support the content you love. Thank you to all of our patrons for making
Crash Course possible with their continued
support.

Author:

100 thoughts on “The Dark(er) Side of Media: Crash Course Media Literacy #10”

  • "The moral of the story: always double check the veracity of information and sources we see, lest we become victims of misdirection."
    Good advice!

  • The goyim Know says:

    I could have made a better video than this, don't trust the media, they are the worst lyers on the planet

  • So our Russian overloards aren't allowed to spend a couple hundred thousand dollars on "misleading" ads after the election but everyone else can hundreds of millions?

    Also hire the Russian marketing teams. They're extremely efficient with your money.

  • Xenath Cytrin says:

    oh, that next video will be interesting
    Who here thinks that they are going to say you need to get your information from 'reputable' places like academia, newspapers, and other far left propaganda outlets?

  • Xenath Cytrin says:

    Man, this is a very good video, not only does it tell us what propaganda and disinformation is, it is a perfect example of both!
    Hats off to you guys.

  • Would a young-Earth creationist espousing the Bible be propaganda, disinformation or misinformation? I say more misinformation.

  • Goldenblade14 says:

    In this video: important information that the comments on the left and right are too blind and bigoted to pay attention to.

  • The Grinning Viking says:

    It's funny that the Russian troll farm, with their minimal funding and badly translated facebook ads, gets mentioned unironically in a video about this topic.

    Seriously, check out the russian troll farms adverts. I won't speak to why established politicians and the media decided this was so important, but check them out, check out how much the russians spent when compared to either political party, and make your own informed judgement.

    And don't give in to conspiracy theory BS either. Direct sources without an obvious agenda that provide information with both its context and origin intact are the only reputable sources.

  • Jennifer Isaacs says:

    North Korea is presently often even if it happens world wide. Tin foil hats do it in profit with anti science , political groups do it left and right, and so on.

  • Jennifer Isaacs says:

    Book burning to censorship is a thing, but misinformation is at libraries too. Cults do it and tin foil hats do it very often.

    That Mandela Effect is one thing but undue influence with indoctrination another.

  • Titanic… the greatest movie ever made??? I beg to differ. 🙂

    As for the media, journalists should do a better job of not being so biased (and pretending to be unbiased). I don't mind bias, but own up to it. OR… Just give me the facts without trying to make me think a certain way. And, stop being so emotional. I want cold hard facts, not feelings. When journalists do those things… then the viewers will return. But unfortunately, too many journalists just can't seem to help themselves.

  • Number Eight or Nine? says:

    So far every episode has covered university ENG 101 and ENG 102 without the writing portion. These classes need to be taught all through High School, need a better technically educated society.

  • Valuable stuff. I traveled through Mazula in 78. I was hitchhiking around America. It was the coolest city I ever saw. I had way to much fun. Is Lucky's tavern still there? I wonder. I am not surprised that this high-quality production is from Mazula. Is Mary still there?

  • Suggesting that propoganda is mainly developed maliciously by bad actors is a reductive way of understanding it. Almost every person on Earth believes they are a good person, and when championing a cause will often resort to dishonest tactics because they believe the ends justify the means. This is especially true if they are fighting (literally or figuratively) an enemy they believe is evil. Consider Churchill developing anti-Nazi, technically false propoganda to convice the US to join WW2 because Churchill believed Hitler was the greatest threat of the age, as just a single example.
    You can also construct propoganda through lies by omission, which often occur unintentionally if stuck inside an echo chamber. In an echo chamber the members won't even realize they are propogandizing to one another, but will rather think they are sharing the full, objective truth with one another.

  • If you see news on a weird-looking website, scroll all the way down to find out that on this site everyone can post anything and they still get money when they get clicks.

  • Why do you have to talk like you're talking to children? This weird and pompous way of speaking made the video impossible to watch for me.

  • Too bad this definition of propaganda focuses on information, since most scholars acknowledge that propaganda also includes entertainment, education and activism. Focusing on propaganda as "evil" is a real problem because it pathologizes the actors involved. Propagandists are true believers– they think their messages are valuable and important.

  • Micke Nieminen says:

    And still the ludicrous hateful propaganda goes on steroids about McCarthy! Venona records proove that McCarthy was right!

  • unless you're rich be weary of any political news you get from a millionaire.
    class war has always been, and always will be the greatest source of propaganda. social media, especially in the early days, was a refuge of sorts for many, but the elites are digging in their hooks into online sources. from net neutrality to demonetization they are wiggling into your paycheck and benifits.

  • Dmitry Fedorov says:

    What about disinformation intentionally being presented as misinformation? What about "propaganda" label being painted on true information because it is harmful or unwanted? These are concepts important to media literacy, I should have been hearing about this in the video.

  • Enəɡˈmætɪk says:

    A brain that is really in a vat could never truly assert that it is a brain in a vat, or talk about anything in the “real” world.

  • Interesting. Just like the like-dislike ratio on this video when compared to the amount of skeptics in the comment section.

  • Titanic is a perfectly fine movie until the very end, when Rose throws a HISTORICALLY SIGNIFICANT ARTIFACT INTO THE BLOODY OCEAN because "love or whatever". So, sorry: I'm my own evil twin on that one.

  • Sure okay… but having multiple varied sources SHOULD be better than a limited handful of sources solely controlled by those in power and already with influence… So long as you understand basic fact checking practices and know how to tell the difference between facts and opinion. … It's just that you KIND of made it sound like only getting information from a few mainstream sources [which can be victim to the same downfalls and often politically biased cough fox news] is safer and better than taking in information from a free-global market of exchanging ideas….

  • Read everything! BUT read everything with a grain of salt. Always ask, is there more to the story? Propaganda can exist everywhere and it is usually the #1 culprit in advancing genocide. Enemies are created by propaganda. Unfortunately, propaganda has now gone global with campaigns being coordinated from many different countries. If someone says horrible things about someone else, possibly because they have bought into propaganda campaigns, be the person that stands against him or her.

  • Hippy Killer says:

    Man, you guys don't even talk about the Propaganda that the Hillary Clinton campaign produced on Facebook and reddit using Correct The Record. YOU GUYS ARE PRODUCING DISINFORMATION AND PROPAGANDA! For people talking about media literacy, you are illiterate af.

    Because if you only say Russia participated in these actions, and ignore the fact that Hillary Clinton did the same thing with more money towards Bernie Sanders supporters, you are giving people a false sense of understanding. Nor do you talk about the Telecommunications act of 1996! This has been an absolute joke of a series.

  • What is the difference between campaigns and truthful propaganda? They seem like just different ways to say the same thing. Both intend to persuade, both intend to change or manipulate behavior. It seems to me, that the difference is whether the campaign or propaganda fits with your world view. To some people it is advertising, to others it is propaganda.

  • Rachael Lefler says:

    Even comic books were propaganda in the 1940's, Captain America, Wonder Woman, and like a dozen other heroes in star-spangled leotards whose stories never made it out of their decade.

  • Rachael Lefler says:

    You know in some counties you can't even conjure a flame atronach on Sundays? The religious laws in this country… Sheesh.

  • Brian Hutzell says:

    I would like to say this Crash Course series should be recommended and perhaps even required viewing in schools. Adults could benefit from it too. Is it perfect? No. Should you apply the same standard to it that it encourages you to apply to media in general? Yup. But Jay Smooth gives you some great tools to work with in these videos!

  • For anyone who cares to wake up and be red pilled, watch the documentary: Manufacturing Consent. Or better yet, read the book

  • While I agree with the sentiment, it is a little amusing when I've seen videos from this channel where the narrator has a blatant socio-political bias inserted into his commentary.

  • Okir Publishing says:

    "Always double check the veracity of the information we see."

    About time someone in the media talks about it.

  • Yeah sadly the ones typically doing the coordinated campaigns to support wars are eager corporate media outlets on both right and left. No need for government involvement at all.

  • locolo Kuromanhs says:

    This aged really well with the made up russia-trump scandal that distracted public opinion for 3 years away from the rest of Trumps frauds and scam presidency

  • Jose P. Montoya says:

    Damn, less than 100k views on this jewel?? Wonder if the algorithms learned not to recommend this eye-opening course.

  • Hi, My name is Soraya and I work with a Brazilian media literacy project named @EDUCAMIDIA [supported by Google and Instituto Palavra Aberta]. Our goal is to spread the media literacy movements in schools, offering resources and promote professional development to teachers and educators. We found your video very pertinent and useful as a resource. Thank you! So we contributed with the translation for Portuguese. We just sent the closed captions for your approval.

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