I’ve just been reading a piece on the Russian disinformation (or is it misinformation?) and opinion manipulation campaigns thought to lay behind the last US election and UK referendum on the EU.
Fascinating reading though it is, my first thought is that if I’m reading about it, then it can’t really be very good.
In my business world as a corporate communicator my priorities in helping employers and clients has always been to either make sure nobody finds out about something that would cause a reputation crisis, or if too late to mitigate damage to reputation by trying to distract attention.
My mantras have long been “A crisis is an issue that people find out about” and “The best way to manage a crisis is to avoid having one.” If people know about my work then clearly I’ve failed.
The same must apply to this kind of manipulation of opinion by governments. If I know about it, then it’s either failed or it succeeded but the cover has since been blown.
All governments run disinformation campaigns, at home and abroad. The essence of government communication is to ensure that people only know (and hopefully think) what they want them to.
My assumption is that our own government in a modest way, and the US government in a big way, is subverting opinion all over the world, or at least in those states considered our enemies of the moment.
As I don’t know about it, I hope that means they are better at it than the Russians who might as well have hired a PR agency to tell everyone what they are up to!
This is one of the many reasons why, in my opinion as more than a bit of a libertarian, that most government is mostly a bad thing. Governments are basically groups of people who want to control what other people do and if really statist – then what they think too.
This is the reason I became a Conservative (when I was one), to fight statist socialism which has mind control in its DNA.