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Courageous Conversations

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Targets of Propaganda

Learn how and why some people are specially targeted to receive propaganda. While disinformation and propaganda have become pervasive, some target audiences are perceived as vulnerable to certain messages. Campaigns may target audiences based on their age, racial, ethnic, religious or cultural identity, using practices like algorithmic profiling and micro-targeting. Propagandists may hijack search terms that are used by teens, new immigrants, racial minorities, and the elderly to deliver emotionally-resonant messages that tap into their deepest hopes, fears, and dreams.  

Who is targeted to receive harmful propaganda

and how does it affect them? 

Learn how to recognize new forms of targeted propaganda that activates strong emotion, simplifies information, and attacks opponents, and then discuss:

  •  Who is targeting you with propaganda?

  • What are some examples of beneficial and harmful propaganda you have encountered recently?

  • How do you recognize the difference between beneficial and harmful propaganda?

  •  How do you resist the allure of harmful propaganda that aligns with your existing beliefs?

Listen In 

Discussion Support Tools 
Bring this discussion program to your school or community

🍎 Targets of Propaganda Lesson Plan.  Explore how people are targeted to receive different types of propaganda and reflect on how it affects them. 

💙 Make a copy of the Google Slide Deck for this topic.  You can then edit your copy as needed.

❤️ Video Summary. Learn about new forms of 21st century propaganda and how targeted messages activate emotion and address people's personal identity in order to persuade. 

Reading and Discussion. Learn about the many social functions of “positive” propaganda that is designed to unify or create consensus.

Facilitation Guide. Everything you need to offer a Courageous Conversation in your community. 

For Educators  
Address RI state standards with curated curriculum resources 

H.HP.2: Explain the purpose, audience, and perspective of multiple types of sources (art, music, oral histories, pamphlets, film, texts, etc.) relating to a historical event or series of events, individual, or group of people, including indications of bias toward or against the subject portrayed.

H.HP.3: Analyze multiple types of sources, including art, music, oral histories, pamphlets, film, texts, etc., through a critical reflection of the creators’ and students’ intersectional identities and lived experiences


😎 Curated List of Resources. A collection of additional resources for exploring propaganda with your students. 

📌 Creative Expression Ideas. Engaging ideas for project-based learning and simple media production. 

What You Can Do

Keep Learning

Propaganda Education for a Digital Age

The companion website for the book by Renee Hobbs offers a gigantic Propaganda Gallery with over 3,500 examples of contemporary propaganda.  Also check out the many free online learning modules created by Renee Hobbs. 


Misinformation in the Latino Community

This 30-minute video from Meet the Press Reports offers a comprehensive look at the problem of targeted propaganda. 


How Propaganda is Destroying Democracy

This video from Vice News explores the propaganda of grievance, which is cultivated through populism, extremism, conspiracy theories, and the evolution of propaganda over time. 

These Authors are Trying to Convert You

When do fantasy novels function as propaganda? This video essay explores how fantasy authors throughout time have been perceived as a form of religious propaganda. 


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