Fake news, misinformation, political propaganda, disinformation. When people normally think of these terms they think of the viral stories which plague our newsfeeds. These stories often result in chaotic ideas, conspiracy theories and even election results being brought into question. More often then not, we say it doesn’t happen to us.
Disinformation campaigns have been around for some time. Most academics would draw attention to the campaign run by the Russian KGB in the 1980s called Operation INFEKTION.
This campaign, before the era of social media, caused articles to be published in soviet newspapers linking US military bases to AIDS outbreaks. The logical and implied conclusion was that the US Military Machine had created AIDS.
More recently, Facebook has been embroiled in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Cambridge Analytica and its parent company SCL Group were linked to the misappropraition of digital assets, big data mining, and strategic communication (read propaganda) during elections to sway voter bases without them realising.
Cambridge Analytica’s tricks of the trade have started becoming almost synonymous with the statecraft of modern politics.
Last night I caught South Australia’s Premier using staged media (images and video) to try and push a political agenda. This is reminiscent of what CA and SCL had been seen to do in many of their operations.
Comparison shots supposedly comparing during COVID lockdown to now were not genuinely representative of those times. Indeed, the media used showed empty streets at dawn; something familiar for our city even before COVID!
15 Hours later, the offending media has been removed from Facebook. This removal is a sad omission.
The point the Government was trying to make, one that our state is returning to normality and is open for business is indeed a valid one. There was no need for photo trickery to make it.
You can see in this archive of images by The Advertiser that the point could have been easily made with proper images.
In the modern age of electoral interference, fake news and democracies vulnerable to the effects of hybrid warfare, let this be a lesson to our Governments. Instead of increasing consumer confidence, the use of staged media has left the electorate scratching our collective heads wondering what else we’re being manipulated into believing.
Thanks to the @threadreaderapp you can see how it played out on twitter below.
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