About Us

The Propwatch Project is a 501(c)(3) educational non-profit, whose mission is to raise public awareness about the prevalence of propaganda and disinformation in mass media. We do so using a ground-breaking 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 behind this website 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 large numbers of video segments of contemporary propaganda in use, but also be 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 the Propwatch platform into their curriculum. Formal permission is not required, although we do appreciate your feedback.

Nonpartisanship and Fairness

In keeping with our commitment to nonpartisanship, we analyze all content using the same standard and let the evidence dictate our conclusions. We do not concentrate our analysis on any one side of the political spectrum.

As a result, we strive to present an equal balance of comments reflecting both sides of the political spectrum, featuring a current balance of 49.44% / 50.56% comments associated with Democrats / Republicans respectively. As this is a real-time rating, it fluctuates as new content is added to the database.

We also 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. Our primary sources for fact-checking include PolitiFact.com, a non-profit, Pulitzer Prize winning website, operated by the Poynter Institute, and Factcheck.org, a nonpartisan, non-profit project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

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.

Our Inspiration

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.

Monthly newsletter,
Vol.1 No.2, November 1937

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.

Funding and Organization

If we accept funding from other 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 viewed here.
This project is supported [in part] by a grant from the Hacks Hackers.