Our first challenge for you: start dissecting your cable news and mentally noting any political ads you see on your social sites.

What you’ll start to notice is how frequently our news stories come with a blaming component: “Here’s what’s happening, here’s why you should be afraid, and here’s who's to blame”.

Two key points to remember as you start to reveal what is commonly known as tactics of scarcity (more on this below):
1. This is an intentional strategy
2. We can find it used frequently in everyday advertising.

Scarcity (and the law of) says: "If what we desire appears to be in limited supply, the perception of its value increases significantly".
Think: Toilet paper and Covid19.

Propaganda is biased or misleading information circulated through some form of mass media with the intent of promoting a political agenda and/or/to influence people’s thoughts, opinions, and actions.

In order to start thinking critically, we need to start recognizing the connections between fear, pain, scarcity, and the belief in propaganda.

Video

Disinformation Campaigns Explained

Video

Witch Hunts:
An Ugly History

Article

Tools shedding a new light on an (e) reality

Sometimes, false information can spread so widely that it becomes accepted as true. These tools help us see between the lines:

> PolitEcho's chrome extension shows you the political biases of your Facebook friends and news feed.

>
FlipFeed's Twitter plug-in replaces your regular Twitter feed with a random, anonymous user of a different political persuasion. Created by M.I.T. researchers (currently under update).

> Escape Your Bubble, a plug-in that seeds your Facebook feed with opposing political views, goes a step further, by repackaging partisan content with an aggressively positive affect.

Article

Facebook algorithms and personal data

Most commercial sites, from social media platforms to news outlets to online retailers, collect a wide variety of data about their users’ behaviors. Platforms use this data to deliver content and recommendations based on users’ interests and traits, and to allow advertisers to target ads to relatively precise segments of the public. But how well do Americans understand these algorithm-driven classification systems, and how much do they think their lives line up with what gets reported about them?

Read More >

Video

What is McCarthyism? And how did it happen?

In the 1950's, as part of a campaign to expose suspected communists, thousands of innocent individuals were aggressively investigated and questioned before government panels. Named after its most notorious practitioner, the phenomenon known as McCarthyism destroyed lives and careers. But how did this episode of political repression take off?

Video

Can political identity affect a person's ability to process information?

Can someone’s political identity actually affect their ability to process information? The answer lies in a cognitive phenomenon known as partisanship. While identifying with social groups is an essential and healthy part of life, it can become a problem when the group’s beliefs are at odds with reality. So how can we recognize and combat partisanship? Jay Van Bavel shares helpful strategies.

What is critical thinking?

To analyze the facts of an issue, objectively (meaning without outside influence or bias) to form a judgement (or evidence-based decision). Say you're in front of a judge to dispute a fine. The judge is expected to consider the facts of your case, without taking into account outside factors, such as political affiliation or personal beliefs.

Don't believe everything you think.

The best education we can give ourselves is to train our mind to think: critically, differently, and deeply. To quote Einstein, we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.

Question, Practice, Develop.

Consider your beliefs. How did they come to be? Why do you believe what you do? Where did this belief come from? What type of information backs this belief up? Has this belief evolved or changed over time? If so, what factors lead to a shift in thinking? Deeply consider the source of the information and ask these same questions. Help your children practice this thinking at home. Start with developing a higher standard as to what we accept into our belief systems and how we pass these beliefs on.

The Rise of Disinformation Campaigns

Quiz

Rate your own bias:

Learn about your own bias and how it compares with others. AllSides Media Bias Ratings help you to easily identify different perspectives so you can get the full picture and think for yourself.

Go >

Quiz

Test your ability to fact check:

Try the News Literacy Group's quiz to see if you can spot false or misleading stories.

Go >

Video

How Americans mastered propaganda in WW2

No matter what country you were in during World War II, whether you were at home or at work, propaganda was everywhere: posters, buttons, pamphlets, toys, clothing, and more.why was propaganda used? Watch this video and learn more.

Article

Study exposes disinformation campaign that operated in the shadows for 6 years

For the past six years, a shadow disinformation campaign by Russian operatives, went virtually undetected as they flooded the Internet with false stories across 300 social media platforms, in seven languages - according to new research by Graphika; outlined findings of report here.

The campaign, named "Secondary Infektion", has sought to spread pro-Russian propaganda around the world by sharing fake tweets from U.S. elected officials and conspiracy theories about the coronavirus.

It also attempted to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Researchers say it will likely try to spread falsehoods tied to the November election, as well.

Read more >

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How we operate:

As our position is focused on co-creating solutions, our approach champions effective altruism. We believe people should have the ability to donate passionately across multiple causes but effectively within these causes to produce the most consequential outcomes.

Collective action on any social issue requires attention to the ways digital regulations influence and shape every other policy domain. Often we see a fragmented or independent set of influences or individuals as the culprit toward exasperating an issue, however, to create solutions within a digital-dependent society, we have to address the fact that these digital systems are owned and managed by corporate and government entities. The need for a transparent and regulated code of ethics, as the baseline for digital development and intent of use, is absolutely necessary toward scaled social solutions.

Our fundraising is three-pronged. Please do not hesitate to reach out directly for a more comprehensive breakdown of each fundraising objective. In addition to a monthly donor report, we will host an open Zoom session each month to review these reports and speak candidly to these goals and produced outcomes.

Prong 1. Digital rights advocacy and protection.

Combatting disinformation and increasing digital and media literacy.

A lack of connection is one of the main contributing problems towards the isolation of communities and the acceptance of reality and facts. Communities need reliable, accurate news and access to factual information that creates the opportunity for dialogue, reflection, and informed decision-making.

By addressing the evolution of key digital systems, and developing a common understanding of practices used in such, we'll begin to shed light on the addictive and intentionally-designed digital tactics used to curate our google results, social media feed, and the ads we see. Underscoring the need to rethink how we consume and share information, the goal is to bring awareness, trigger a moment of pause, and stir curiosity towards confronting our digital addictions and the subsequent repercussions of such.

Up first:

A. Awareness towards the rise of ISP (internet service provider) and media monopolies over our local and regional news.

B. The need to advocate for transparent ethical standards in behavioral analysis, predictive analytics, responsible data collection, including corporate and government commitments toward the funding of ethical data infrastructure.

The plan, in-part:

Increased collaboration across organizations and issue areas to levy an awareness campaign that brings attention to digital problems by reinforcing the interconnected threats to our collective communities, particularly within marginalized and rural communities. We often may overlook the relationship between algorithms and socio-economic, environmental, and public health issues, but by organizing collective power through a shared goal, we have an opportunity to push for real change.

Partnerships with tech leaders within the social impact sectors, and creating an open-communication access point between our campaign and experts in the digital protection and national security space.

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