An element of visual persuasion mentioned in chapter four of Visual Communication: Images with Messages is propaganda, a way of spreading an idea to a population. While propaganda is not inherently negative, it has been used to mislead and manipulate for decades. One of the strongest and most effective examples of this is the nazi propaganda before and during the second world war.
I had heard of propaganda, but I did not truly understand
how it could be so influential until visiting the Holocaust Museum in DC. The propaganda used by the nazi party was strategic and creative; so much so, that it played a great part in their rise to power. The average person is not prone to baseless hatred, so the propaganda was used to build fear and intolerance.
The nazis effectively flooded the media with their message. They utilized new technologies, like television and film, alongside traditional mediums, like newspapers and newsletters, to spread their propaganda. They attempted to foster a sense of community, while ostracizing anyone they deemed to be outside of or detrimental to them. Their propaganda was amazingly effective, and played such a large role in their power that the United Nations established laws to combat this manipulation in the future.
Visual communication can be an extremely effective form of persuasion, but with this power there is a responsibility to persuade using truth. Corporations and governments will use propaganda as opposed to ethical persuasion, and it is important that audiences are discerning and critical when consuming the communication. Seeing these historical pieces of propaganda online can be influential, but seeing them in person and being surrounded by them, the way the Holocaust Museum sets up the exhibit, their power is more obvious. Studying these artifacts can help viewers to more critically view the visual persuasion they may be consuming.