Who is this research for, and how do you use it?
This resource is designed for researchers, journalists, policymakers, and anyone interested in understanding the dynamics of information ecosystems, particularly those that are influenced by state actors. A key element of this system is that it recognizes that not all parties that are a part of and that support proregime ecosystems necessarily do so willfully.
It provides a methodology for identifying and classifying sources based on their behavior rather than opinion or speculation. This approach reduces bias and improves the consistency and reproducibility of research.
Use cases for this resource may include:
- Academic research: Scholars in a range of fields that address media manipulation and information disorder, like public health, journalism, decision science, risk assessment, crisis response, and others, could use this methodology to identify sources for their research and to classify those sources in a consistent, unbiased way.
- Journalism: Journalists from a range of fields could use this resource to understand the role websites play in different issue- or regime-supportive information ecosystems. This context is often difficult to understand without a birds-eye view of the connections between sources. This resource aims to provide that.
- Policymaking: Government officials or policy analysts could use this resource to understand the dynamics of information ecosystems, in this case, with regard to pro-regime information ecosystems. This could better inform policy aims, which must understand the complex and nuanced roles within the information landscape.
- Public education: Educators or activists could use this resource to help the public understand the dynamics of information ecosystems and develop critical media literacy skills.
What does it mean for a source to be included in an ecosystem?
The inclusion of a source does not inherently indicate anything negative. We define "proregime" as framing, arguments, or ideas that are endorsed, promoted, or implied by regime officials, employees, representatives, allies, or contract workers. The "proregime" label itself does not indicate whether something is true, false, misleading, or otherwise.
The only information that can be gleaned from a source’s inclusion in a specific ecosystem is that it met the criteria outlined below for inclusion. This system recognizes and hopes to highlight that people can unknowingly support proregime information networks. Whether it's intentional matters little, as this is not something that search engines and algorithms can discern or consider.
Whether the classification as a proregime website is positive or negative goes beyond the scope of this methodology and is not addressed. Outlets are classified as Tier 1, Tier 2, or Tier 3. Subtypes include Multistate and Interface, so far. There are more Subtypes that will be added in the future.
- While some of these outlets have concrete ties to the state, some included in the data do not. Consent is not required to backlink a website.
- Inclusion in the database should not be regarded as an assertion that an outlet is affiliated with a regime, nor that content is false, misleading, or otherwise nefarious. Again, this goes beyond the scope of this methodology.
Criteria for inclusion in a proregime ecosystem
Entities included in this information ecosystem report met one of three criteria.
- The website is recognized by the US federal government or an intelligence agency from one of the Five Eyes (Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States) as a proregime or regime agent.