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Sri Lanka: Propaganda Wars
Haifaa Al Mansour's Wadjda: Revolutionary Art or Pro-State Propaganda?
Forced from his five-week vacation idyll in Crawford by the mother of a dead boy he sent to war, the President has recently given two major speeches defending his war policies and, between biking and boating, held a brief news conference at Tamarack Resort in Donnelly, Idaho. On August 22nd, he addressed the national convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Salt Lake City for 30 minutes; on August 24th, he spoke for 43 minutes to families of the Idaho National Guard in the farming community of Nampa, Idaho. Sometimes, just that extra bit of repetition under less than perfect circumstances, and words that once struck fear or offered hope, that once explained well enough for most the nature of the world they faced, suddenly sound hollow. They begin to sound… well, repetitious, and so, false.
Bizarre North Korean TV SITCOMS broadcast as part of Kim Jong-un's PROPAGANDA machine
Look closely and all of our modern talk of fake news, foreign influence and democracy in decline are merely our latest reckoning with the age-old tactic of governments using communications technologies as a weapon of war. Just as AI has become the defacto buzzword everywhere else, so too has it become to go-to solution for misinformation. Much as the field of sentiment analysis has been overtaken by computer scientists moonlighting as psychologists and entirely oblivious to why their trivial solutions seem to fail so spectacularly, so too has the study of false information, especially influence campaigns, been overtaken by computer scientists eager to demonstrate that every societal problem can be solved with a few lines of code and zero knowledge of what they are actually studying. Russian influence campaigns and those of other states that have invested heavily in information operations, including some US allies, make use of extraordinarily complex hybrid campaigns that follow few templates, utilize simultaneous firewalled campaigns, make use of a range of modalities designed to transition into domestically accelerated organic campaigns, make use of a range of signals, including classified intelligence to direct them and typically involve endless misdirection and timed disclosures. In effect, well-run influence campaigns are immensely complex, multifaceted and multimodal, making mitigation far from a one-click removal.
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