Project Report: Political Propaganda & Social Media

It has become abundantly clear that social media platforms are being used by nation-states and political actors to influence politics in other nations. While the use of propaganda is nothing new, social media facilitates the targeting of specific audiences with disinformation tailored to their intellectual and emotional profile, assembled through personal data shared broadly on social media. Big Data is leveraged to spread Big Lies, so to speak.

In 2019 Ellen Lechman and I embarked on a research project to begin assessing the use of social media to spread propaganda in nations other than the United States. As we are both U.S. citizens and residents, we are well aware of the disruptions caused by digital propaganda tactics in our own country. We wanted to conduct a comparative study focused elsewhere to assemble a much broader picture, and examine these tactics through the lenses of two theories we thought might be useful: Framing Theory, and Media Ecology Theory.

With this focus in mind, we conducted a literature review of recent research on propagandistic interventions occurring in Asian and European nations. We surveyed available academic and other institutional publications, and produced an annotated bibliography detailing a baker’s dozen of sources we deemed most relevant.

As Ellen and I worked, we realized that we could only scratch the surface of this topic. We’d have to do much more research and analysis before submitting our work for publication. But we decided to make this initial work accessible as a WordPress site, in case it might be helpful to other scholars. We hope the sources cited, and our theoretical approach, is useful as a starting point for further research.

Access our full literature review here: