Competing Media Manipulations

I’ve been noticing something these past months. It partly relates to another thing I’ve noticed before. Facebook doesn’t always notify me when someone posts a comment and that is particularly true for strangers. I could set my account to private or whatever, but I don’t feel like doing so. What is different recently is the comments I’ve come across, when looking back at recent posts. It’s both what is posted and who is posting it that stands out.

There is a particular article from a particular website that keeps getting posted. The article is critical of Trump, listing some of his scandals and including some of the creepy pictures of him with his daughter. It’s the same article posted repeatedly for at least the past two months. More interesting, every Facebook account that is posting it is different. But they all show the account as being from Georgia (the country, not the state). I assume they are fake accounts.

I just delete the comments and block the accounts. It’s not of any great concern to me. If some organization or another wants to spam anti-Trump material, more power to them. It just makes me curious about who is behind it. And why are the accounts all portrayed as being from Georgia?

It reminds me of the paid trolls from the Clinton campaign. After a while, one begins to think that half the internet is being run as competing agendas of manufactured consent, political propaganda, perception management, public relations campaigns, astroturf, disinformation, controlled opposition, etc. All of it goes down to a deeper level beyond the obvious examples of fake news. This is magnified by how the media in general has simultaneously become concentrated into fewer hands and placed into an international system, which combined brings greater forces into clashing influence.

Meanwhile, the average person is drowning in a tidal wave of manipulation beyond his or her comprehension. The alternative media that could offer perspective too often gets lost in the noise.

Public Relations and Propaganda

This post is somewhat of an addition to my post before this one: Mediating Your Own Reality.  Guerrilla media is becoming increasingly hijacked by advertising.  What inspired me to write my previous post was the Antwerp station dance video which was a publicity stunt to advertise for a show.

Advertisers aren’t contented to just control what you view on a screen or a billboard.  Public relations is big business which essentially equates to propaganda for hire.  It can be hard to detect the genuine from the fake.  For example, see astroturfing (Wikipedia):

The goal of such a campaign is to disguise the efforts of a political or commercial entity as an independent public reaction to some political entity—a politician, political group, product, service or event. Astroturfers attempt to orchestrate the actions of apparently diverse and geographically distributed individuals, by both overt (“outreach”, “awareness”, etc.) and covert (disinformation) means. Astroturfing may be undertaken by an individual pushing a personal agenda or highly organized professional groups with financial backing from large corporations, non-profits, or activist organizations. Very often the efforts are conducted by political consultants who also specialize in opposition research.

[. . .]

In business, astroturfing is one form of stealth marketing, which can include the manipulation of viral marketing. Several examples are described as “undercover marketing” in the documentary The Corporation[9].

The term “astroturfing” is also used to describe public relations activities aimed at “falsely creating the impression of independent, popular support by means of an orchestrated and disguised public relations exercise….designed to give the impression of spontaneous support for an idea/product/company/service,”

Astroturfing often uses a front organization and typically serves the purpose of black propaganda.

Some websites such as sourcewatch.org try to help people to see past all of the spin.  Here are some videos for your further edification.