Finally, the last type of fake news is propaganda. Scholars define this kind of disinformation as “news stories which are created by a political entity to influence public perceptions” (Tandoc, Lim & Ling, 2018, p. 146). It’s important to highlight the fact that propaganda often may have some plausible truth to it; however, the information is paired with strong political bias intended to persuade those who read and, or, see the presented information. (Tandoc, Lim & Ling, 2018).
While propaganda is not commonly seen throughout the United States due to our freedoms and democratic run government, it is still a type of fake news that communicators should be able to recognize.
For example, the world has been upended by the global pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus in 2020. Yet, the concern surrounding the virus turned from being just a medical issue to a political one.
The New York Times reported that the Chinese government had created several thousands of fake Twitter accounts in order to spread disinformation online about the coronavirus and where it initially began. Many of the social media stories claimed that the virus originated in the United States. The propaganda filled messages gained lots of traction online and resulted in a large number of retweets and likes.
In response to the widespread disinformation, Twitter took down roughly 150,000 fake accounts purposely trying to “amplify China’s leading envoys and state-run news outlets” claimed The New York Time’s article (Conger, 2020).
As time went on, government entities, news organizations, and the public became more aware of how the virus actually came to spread. As a result, the false Twitter accounts shifted their messaging in March of 2020 and began comparing the response initiatives between the United States and China. Specifically, China was referred to as the “responsible big country” in comparison to the United States who was called on to “put aside political bias,” according to The New York Times (Conger, 2020).
In response to the fake Twitter accounts, a statement was issued from the director of the International Cyber Policy Center, Fergus Hanson, who directly worked alongside the social media company to put an end to the propaganda. “Persistent, covert and deceptive influence operations like this one demonstrate the extent to which the party-state will target external threats to its political power,” Hanson said (Conger, 2020).Next Page: Case Study – Fake News Dissemination: Pizzagate