Public relations? Or manufacture of consent? Just different terms used for the good old weapon of mass destruction of individual thought, personal opinion and organic discovery of the world’s truths – propaganda. And thanks to the power of the internet, around 30 countries are using the mass communication medium to shape the opinion of the world and undermine democracy, according to The Guardian.
US NGO Freedom House says in a report that governments in Venezuela, the Philippines, Turkey and elsewhere use social media to influence elections, drive agendas and counter critics. Unlike widely reported Russian attempts to influence foreign elections, most of the offending countries use the internet to manipulate opinion domestically.
“Manipulation and disinformation tactics played an important role in elections in at least 17 other countries over the past year, damaging citizens’ ability to choose their leaders based on factual news and authentic debate,” the US government-funded charity said. “Although some governments sought to support their interests and expand their influence abroad, as with Russia’s disinformation campaigns in the United States and Europe, in most cases they used these methods inside their own borders to maintain their hold on power.”
Of the 65 countries surveyed, 30, including Venezuela, the Philippines and Turkey, were found to be using “armies of opinion shapers” to “spread government views, drive particular agendas, and counter government critics on social media”
You can check out their findings on the Freedom House website and they’ve made a very simplistic map of the world according to their measured parameters. Their choice of words might be funny and a bit ridiculous considering what point they’re trying to get across, depending on which side of the coin you come from.
With terms like “free” and “non-free”, describing the US as “free” after the election debacle and all the marketing campaigns going locally, may seem a bit disingenuous to outsiders – and rightfully so.