We are also amused by everyone who wants to change the subject. We have been writing code, collecting data, analyzing data, manually reviewing outlets, responding to media, drafting, editing, internally debating, etc, with a team of volunteers, on a holiday weekend, and it is working. We have helped start the conversation we wanted to start, and greatly increased awareness of the problem we are trying to address. There remains much more to do, but we look forward to the upcoming public discussion, and intend to respond to questions and requests for more information as soon as humanely possible - again, bearing in mind that we are an all-volunteer team, with no budget, on a holiday weekend.
We would also like to be very clear that we fiercely believe in the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of the press, and have no interest in seeing anyone punished for exercising them. Quite to the contrary. However, when outlets echo, repeat, and refer their audience to Russian propaganda, especially of the fake-news variety (which they have the right to do), we're going to highlight it (which we have the right to do). If they in fact were not doing so, and we were incorrect, we are happy to correct the record. We highlight. We do not censor.
Our criteria are behavioral, not motivational. If a particular outlet consistently echoes, repeats, and refers its audience to official and semi-official Russian state media, we will to try to measure it. We often cannot know the motivations of the people involved, although sometimes, thanks to other reporting, we can have have a very good sense - but the motivations are less important to us than the behavior. That's one big reason why we don't accuse any Americans of deliberate wrongdoing, and why we so generally focus on outlets, not individuals.
More generally, we would like to point out that propaganda outlets like Russia Today are the mouthpieces of a brutal authoritarian oligarchy run by a mafia-spy tyrant, who assassinated a leading opposition politician literally right in front of the Kremlin, and strategically supports and funds political movements around the world. There is no moral equivalence between the United States and the Putin regime. Everyone has the right to criticize the US government, but criticizing the Russian government can get you killed. That is one reason we're anonymous.
There are a few other points of interest as well:
- We have updated and will continue to update our Frequently Asked Questions in response to some of the most common inquiries we've received, although we intend to get back to everyone as soon as possible as well. Watch that space.
- We will be updating The List slightly as well, in part based on the numerous new outlets we've been asked to look into over the past 24 hours. We will do that as soon as we can sink our analysis tools and review processes into the outlets we've been asked to look into, and we'll be updating our browser plugin as well. Due to different volunteers being responsible for different parts of the option, please note that the list in the plugin is slightly ahead of the list on the website. We will fix that.
- We are updating our homepage slightly, to give people a better sense for what the Russian folks working to influence US public opinion look and sound like.
- We are proud to present our updated Black Friday Report, and extremely grateful to everyone who contributed! We look forward to your thoughts, suggestions, and contributions as we move forward. It is available for download here, or can be reivewed directly below:
Thank you very much for all your support, and watch this space - much more soon.
-- The PropOrNot Team