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Considering recent events in nearby Russia, the Czech Republic introduced a project that aims at educating teenagers in recognizing the difference between “trustworthy information” and manipulation.

Putin’s Propaganda Machine is constantly spewing out falsified information in order to (unsuccessfully) improve public opinion of the government and encourage anti-Western sentiment. It’s a dangerous time for independent broadcasters and journalists to try and speak out against the Russian government’s lies, therefore making factual, reliable information difficult and risky to find.

Among the wide range of propaganda being fed to the people Russia are news articles and broadcasts featuring false information, covering up government/military actions with false accusations, and releasing pro-Putin videos to the public. The influx of Russian propaganda is prominent not only in Russia, but in the Czech Republic as well.

“According to experts who contributed to the project, the Czech Republic is still considered to lie within the sphere of Russian interests. Some Czech media use pro-Russian websites as sources for their news.” — Ludmila Souckova, Czech propaganda project coordinator.

The new project, introduced by Czech humanitarian organization People in Need, recognizes that the younger generation should be exposed to Russian propaganda in a learning environment, rather than be exposed to it online, with little-to-no context, and mistake it as genuine information. Along with teaching students how to differentiate between propaganda and an uncensored news source, the program aims to reenforce the idea of fact-checking news before sharing on social media.

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Image courtesy of Pew Research Center.

According to the Pew Research Center, 30% of Facebook users use the social network as a means of getting news, and 50% of social network site users have shared news stories on their platforms. It’s safe to assume that not all of these news stories were fact-checked before being shared on social media. And since we’re more likely to accept information given to us via people that we know, it’s likely that misinformation has been unknowingly passed on within social groups.

This new Czech program realizes this, and the significance of encouraging fact-checking before believing a story. It’s important to be skeptical of the information with which you are presented, because it happens too often that information is manipulated for someone else’s benefit. You can never be too informed about an issue, so if you have the advantage of multiple news sources to check facts, you should take advantage of it.

Featured image courtesy of WikiMedia.

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3 thoughts on “Propaganda Education Introduced in the Czech Republic

  1. Russia’s use of media in order to encourage anti-Western sentiments among their people is a unique issue within a country that has historically been very oppressive towards its people. Russia’s long complicated history, which has made most of its people extremely passive and easily influenced, has largely led to the success of this proganda within the Russian people who will believe almost anything that the almighty Putin or his government claims. In a country such as the Czech Republic, while there may be some propaganda from Russia as mentioned in the post, the people cannot be as easily brainwashed by media because there has always been a pro-Western element within these non-Russian East Central European countries that have experienced a completely different history more closely related to the West than Russia in many ways. Because of this Western element, transitioning from Communist occupation to democratic Capitalist societies was much easier for East Central Europe than for Russia. It will be interesting to see how Russia’s government utilizes social media in the future for propagandistic purposes as its use among the people grows, especially when social media in general creates more opportunity for freedom from the government within oppressed societies. However, while people protesting online during the Arab Spring had physically oppressive governments, Russia’s government today is more psychologically oppressive because of the way it brainwashes them.

  2. I agree with Drew that Russia has had a long history with anti-Western sentiments, as it was so late in the westernization game historically (approximately 400 years after the rest of Europe when Peter the Great came to power). I think this project People in Need is taking on in order to combat propaganda is really great in that there are still remnants of the propagandistic elements of communism left in the Czech Republic today. Furthermore, many aspects of Putin’s regime still reflect the authoritarian Russian past in controlling media usage. For example, today, Russia’s television stations are nationalized rather than privatized. This is a method through which media can be controlled in comparison to the more westernized and capitalist Czech Republic, and other parts of East Central Europe.
    I think it may be a long time before Russia reaches the point that the Czech Republic is in regarding a freer social media use/media spreading because of how anti-west its sentiments still are. However, this project is demonstrative of the increasing efforts to diminish propaganda and to promote freedom of knowledge that has always been characteristic of a westernized world.

    I’m interested to see how the Russian citizens use social media to have dialogue regarding propaganda, or if the larger majority recognizes the media is manipulating their information, and perhaps how the Russian government reacts to this. I hope People in Need’s efforts to draw attention to propaganda will help to alleviate false information that’s circulating, and teach a new generation of people to be more critical and analytical of the news they’re reading. Though, I also think that propaganda may be easier to spread in the Czech Republic because it lacks diversity in population and it’s only 10 million people in the country. But as long as the effort is made to help people learn to recognize propaganda, that in itself is a promising gesture. (Plus, the Czech people are more active in righting wrongs, i.e. Velvet Revolution, whereas the Russia has not seen many uprisings against the government). Social media is a very powerful thing, and I think as the Czech Republic continues to westernize and leave its communist shadow, it is moving in the right direction and towards a freer information system.

  3. **To clarify, I mean that People in Needs’ efforts to draw attention to propaganda in the Czech Republic** will help alleviate false information that is circulating. This is in comparison to Russia’s very anti-western sentiments and its lack in efforts to try to fix manipulated media. Where the Czech Republic moves forward in correcting manipulations and becoming transparently democratic, the Russians seem to be moving backwards, as Putin continues to administer more propaganda.

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