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17 Examples of Media Manipulation

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Media manipulation is the use of communication media to deceive or mislead. This is often done for the purposes of propaganda, activism, financial gain and public relations. The following are illustrative examples.

Rhetorical Devices

Rhetorical devices are known ways of influencing people. Many of these have been used for thousands of years and aren't necessarily unethical. For example, an appeal to authority or straw man argument.

Biased Reporting

An organization that is ostensibly objective such as a government or newspaper that nevertheless reports information that is colored with ideology such that it resembles propaganda.

Suppression of Information

An organization that has a responsibility to report information that holds it back because it doesn't benefit their agenda. For example, a government or newspaper that doesn't report findings of dangerous contamination of a water supply.


Purposely communicating information that is false. For example, fake news reports.


Transmitting arguments that are logically invalid such as proof by example. It is common for people to accidentally produce arguments that are fallacies. Media manipulation implies that a fallacy is knowingly produced to persuade.

Dumbing Down

Oversimplifying complex issues. For example, the use of thought-terminating cliches and glittering generalities.

False Dichotomy

A false dichotomy is the incorrect assertion that their are only two choices in a particular situation. These fall into familiar patterns such as us vs them.

Anonymous Authority

Claiming that an opinion originates with an authority without any naming any sources. For example, "scientists say" or "experts agree."

False Balance

False balance is the act of pretending that two arguments are equally valid when one is far more valid than the other. For example, "some experts say that dogs are animals that evolved on Planet Earth while other experts point out that they are most likely aliens from another world."


Misrepresenting the content of media with titles that are designed to get clicks. This may go as far as including disinformation in a title.


Astroturfing is the practice of pretending that an organization or initiative is rooted in popular citizen activism when it is actually sponsored by a government, industry, organization or wealthy individual.

Visual Media Manipulation

Production and distribution of fake or altered visual media such as photos and videos.

Filter Bubbles

Information technology that gauges how a user thinks and then feeds them content that aligns to these views. This may cause the user to believe that their views are common or universal when in fact they are uncommon or extreme.

Psychological Targeting

Using digital technologies to estimate how people think and then using this data to target messages to them.

Useful Idiot

Useful idiot is the unethical practice of targeting people who have a tendency to unwittingly spread misinformation. Another common target is individuals with potential to sow discord in groups that have common interests.


Spreading disinformation from a large number of aliases. For example, a government that controls millions of social media accounts.

Concern Trolling

Communicating ideas that are typical of the opposition in order to derail their efforts. This often takes the form of encouraging the opposition to adopt an increasingly extreme position that is unpalatable to the majority of people.


The following are common examples of media manipulation.


Media manipulation is the use of media to deceive. This can include biases in traditional media such as newspapers and the unethical use of digital media such as social media.
Definition: Media Manipulation
Definition (1)
The use of communication media to deceive.
Definition (2)
The use of media for disingenuous commercial, political or social purposes.
Related Concepts
Next: Media Bias
More about propaganda:
Anecdotal Evidence
Appeal To Authority
Apples & Oranges
Base Rate Fallacy
Big Brother
Conspiracy Fallacy
Culture Of Fear
Dumbing Down
False Analogy
False Balance
False Dichotomy
False Dilemma
False Equivalence
Glittering Generality
Institutional Influence
Loaded Question
Media Influence
Media Manipulation
Not Even Wrong
Overwhelming Exception
Political Influence
Political Strategy
Push Poll
Red Herring
Slippery Slope
Straw Man
Thought-Terminating Cliche
Types Of Influence
Useful Idiot
Weasel Words
Word Of Mouth
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Rhetorical Device

The common types of rhetorical device.


The definition of kairos with examples.

Ethos, Pathos & Logos

The classical approach to influence and propaganda.


The common types of metaphor.

Appeal To Authority

The definition of appeal to authority with examples.


The definition of flattery with examples.

Steel Man

The definition of steel man with examples.


The definition of literature with examples.


The definition of literary mood with examples.

Argument Examples

An overview of common types of argument with examples of each.


A list of propaganda techniques.


The definition of overcommunication with examples.

Dumbing Down

The definition of dumbing down with examples.


The definition of gaslighting with examples.


The definition of misinformation with examples.

Information Opposite

A list of antonyms of information.


The four types of revolution with examples of each.

Mass Hysteria

The definition of mass hysteria with examples.
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