The Propwatch Project is a 501(c)(3) educational non-profit, whose mission is to raise public awareness of propaganda and disinformation in mass media and social media. We do so using a proprietary web platform that can catalog and cross-reference embedded video segments, producing the world's first visual database of propaganda techniques in authentic use.
The database-driven platform was developed by Michael Gordon (pictured right), a professor with the College of Computer and Information Technology at St. Petersburg College, Florida. He first conceptualized the platform in 2015, when he envisioned building a searchable database that could not only catalog video segments of contemporary propaganda in use, but also be easily queried to showcase authentic examples of each technique. In February of 2016, software development on the platform began and was completed in August of 2020.
Propwatch.org is a public resource and educational tool for all information consumers; from the general public, to high school educators, to news organizations. Our goal is to spark critical thinking, undermine logical fallacies, and expose propaganda techniques and disinformation. Educators are encouraged to incorporate our content into their curriculum. Formal permission is not required, although we do appreciate your feedback.
We adhere to the International Fact-Checking Network Fact-checkers' Code of Principles, developed by the Poynter Institute to promote excellence and standardization in fact-checking. We want our readers to be able to verify our findings themselves. In keeping with that commitment, we provide all sources via footnotes linking to the actual source material, so that readers can replicate our work.
This project was inspired by the pioneering work of the Institute for Propaganda Analysis (IPA). In 1937, the IPA was created to educate the American public about propaganda and spark rational thinking, to help the public have well-informed discussions on current issues. The organization focused on domestic propaganda that might become a possible threat to the democratic way of life.
In its November 1937 newsletter, the IPA wrote, "We are fooled by propaganda chiefly because we don't recognize it when we see it. ... Why are we fooled by these devices? Because they appeal to our emotions rather than our reason. They make us believe and do something we would not believe or do if we thought about it calmly, dispassionately. In examining these devices, note that they work most effectively at those times when we are too lazy to think for ourselves; also they tie into emotions which sway us to be "for" or "against" nations, races, religions, ideals, economic and political policies and practices, and so on ... With our emotions stirred, it may be fun to be fooled by these propaganda devices, but it is more fun and infinitely more to our own interests to know how they work."
Although the IPA only lasted five years, through its final monthly bulletin in January 1942, its ground-breaking work has stood the test of time and made a lasting impact on public awareness of the instruments of propaganda. We hope to carry that torch into the digital era.
If we accept funding from organizations, we ensure that our contributors have no influence
over the content we produce or the content we analyze. The
professional background of all key figures in our organization can be
This project is supported [in part] by a grant from the Hacks Hackers.