The YYYcampaignYYY

The YYYcampaignYYY is an effort to crowdsource identifying Russian propaganda outlets and sympathizers. To participate, when you see a social-media account, commenter, or outlet echoing Russian propaganda themes, highlight it with YYYs accordingly!

Doing so is intended to encourage critical thinking about the sources people get their information from and share with others, while highlighting probable Russian propaganda outlets for further investigation and analysis.

Please take care when using YYYs, because many people who get their news from Russian propaganda outlets are completely unaware that their beliefs directly correspond with, and have been shaped by, Russian strategic messaging. However, in an important sense it does not matter whether they are being knowingly directed and paid by Russian intelligence officers (although some of them undoubtably are), or whether they even knew they were echoing Russian propaganda before being called out: If they continue to do so, for whatever reasons, their willingness to uncritically echo Russian propaganda makes them a tool of the Russian state. The term "useful idiot" often applies, and calling them out is justified, appropriate, and valuable.

Hence, the YYYs.

The YYYcampaignYYY is the crowdsourced application of "manual analysis", which is what we call the remarkably easy-to-do process of methodically checking to see whether a particular social-media account, commenter, or outlet qualifies as Russian propaganda, and calling it out it if it does. Anyone can join this campaign, and we hope you will do so.

Manually Identifying YYYRussian PropagandaYYY

In order to usefully identify and expose Russian propaganda, avoid false positives and McCarthyism, and effectively encourage others to get their news from more reliable sources, we recommend using the following steps, or Checks, when performing manual analysis of potential propaganda outlets and using YYYs to highlight it:

1) Check to see whether the social-media account/commenter/outlet consistently cites obvious Russian propaganda outlets such as Russia Today/, the Russian defense ministry, and other official Russian spokespeople.

2) Check to see whether the social-media account/commenter/outlet has a history of reusing text directly from obvious Russian propaganda outlets, especially without attribution.

3) Check to see whether the social-media account/commenter/outlet has a history of generally echoing the Russian propaganda "line" by using themes, arguments, talking points, images, and other content similar to those used by obvious Russian propaganda outlets. These themes include:
  • How wonderful, powerful, innocent, and righteous Russia and Russia's friends are: Putin, Donald Trump, Bashar al-Assad, Syria, Iran, China, radical political parties in the US and Europe, etc. Investigate this by searching for mentions of, for example, "russia", on their site by Googling for " russia", and seeing what comes up.
  • How terrible, weak, aggressive, and corrupt the the opponents of Russia and their friends are: The US, Obama, Hillary Clinton, the EU, Angela Merkel, NATO, Ukraine, Jewish people, US allies, the "mainstream media", and democrats, the center-right or center-left, and moderates of all stripes. Investigate this by searching for mentions of, for example, "NATO", on their site by Googling for " NATO" and seeing what comes up.
  • An obvious bias towards Russia and Russian-backed policy in foreign affairs, including:
    • How fantastic Brexit and Ukrainian/Georgian separatism is, but how terrible Chechen separatists are,
    • How advanced Russian technology is, and how dangerous Western technology is,
    • How great it is when Western secrets get exposed, but how terrible it is when Russian ones do,
    • How militarily powerful Russia and their friends are, and how weak and craven Russia's enemies and their friends are, etc.
  • How dangerous standing up to Russia would be: It would inevitably result in "World War 3", nuclear devastation, etc, and regardless of who shot first or is bombing civilians where now, would be the West's fault. Russian propaganda never suggests it would just result in a Cold War 2 and Russia's eventual peaceful defeat, like the last time.
  • Pre-emptive discouragement of critical analysis: Assertions about them "having the truth", or the need to "wake up the sheeple", or how the "mainstream media" can't be trusted.
  • Hyperbolic alarmism, anti-Western conspiracist insinuations, "Eurasianism", racism, gold-standard nuttery and attacks on the US dollar, 9/11-trutherism, anti-Semitism, anti-"globalism", anti-vax/anti-GMO paranoia, and generally ridiculous over-the-top assertions, which cites Russian propaganda outlets as "evidence".
Please review our Frequently Asked Questions and our Reference Articles for more background.

4) Check to see whether the social-media account/commenter/outlet has a history of echoing the Russian propaganda "line" in weird ways:
  • Do they have propaganda-like content that mentions Russia in a positive light for no clear reason
  • Do they have propaganda-like content that randomly extols Russia and belittles the US
  • Do they have propaganda-like content unrelated to the purported focus of their branding
  • Does the timing of their propaganda-like content coincide with or closely follow similar content on known Russian propaganda outlets
5) Check to see whether the social-media account/commenter/outlet lacks the hallmarks of good actual journalism: Are the stories factual? Are the facts placed in appropriate context? Do the headlines match the content? Are the agendas of the sources clearly disclosed? Are there good explanations? Does it bring clarity to complicated issues? Is there an absence of hype? 

6) Check to see whether the social-media account/commenter/outlet has been called out by other fact-checkers, journalists, debunkers, etc, already.

7) Check to see whether the social-media account/commenter/outlet steadfastly avoids coherently proposing constructive solutions to anything. The point of propaganda isn't just to get people worked up--it's also to create a sense of decision paralysis, and fear of a complex and seemingly frightening world.

8) Given all that, check to see whether the social-media account/commenter/outlet qualifies under our definition of propaganda:
A systematic form of persuasion that attempts to influence the emotions, attitudes, opinions, and actions of specified target audiences for political, ideological, and religious purposes, through the controlled transmission of deceptive, selectively-omitting, and one-sided messages (which may or may not be factual) via mass and direct media channels.
As an example of how this all can work, check out our example post about this:

Join the YYYcampaignYYY

If you come across a social-media account, commenter, or outlet that satisfies those checks, thus qualifying as a bona-fide Russian propaganda outlet, what can be done? For one, you can help highlight it. When you see a story posted from it on social media, that we've already analyzed and debunked, surround the name of it in YYYs, and, as kindly as possible, push back against the person who posted it with a link to this page. Then, come tell us, at PropOrNot, about it.

If it's not in our database, or if you have any questions about an unknown outlet, tell us about it and we will investigate. There's a lot we haven't uncovered yet, and we have sophisticated analytical tools at our disposal. Contact us on Twitter, at @PropOrNot, or on Facebook, on by email at (our domain), or on Reddit at

Finally, please review our Frequently Asked Questions and our Reference Articles for more context and information, and follow the instructions at Get Involved! if you want to help.