Sunday, October 28, 2018

Propaganda: Cultivating Each in their Individuality in the Era of Social Media

Jacques Ellul’s now-classic (1965) Propaganda: The Formation of Men’s Attitudes articulated the characteristics of propaganda, detailing how propaganda must cultivate each individual in their individuality in order to produce changes in crowd activity.

The capacity to cultivate each individual in their individuality in order to control the crowd has never been greater.

Facebook allowed information of up to 50 million users to be handed over to Cambridge Analytica, a "political data firm" and Google acknowledged it had exposed private data of hundreds of thousands of users of its Google+ social network (here).

Apple's CEO Tim Cook recently remarked to The Wall Street Journal that the "scraps of information" acquired through social media are assembled meaningfully by a surveillance-industrial complex that threatens privacy while enabling unprecedented tailoring of persuasive messages:
Sam Schechner and Emre Peker (Oct. 24, 2018). Apple CEO Condemns ‘Data-Industrial Complex.’ The Wall Street Journal,
Mr. Cook went further on Wednesday, likening the underlying data-collection practices of the targeted online-advertising world—a business worth tens of billions of dollars a year—to surveillance. It is language more common from privacy activists than tech CEOs.

“These scraps of data, each one harmless enough on its own, are carefully assembled, synthesized, traded, and sold,” Mr. Cook said. “This is surveillance. And these stockpiles of personal data serve only to enrich the companies that collect them. This should make us very uncomfortable.”
Ellul's conceptualization of propaganda as persuasive messaging devoid of concern for truth and/or ethics has been fully realized in the era of mass surveillance and algorithmic governance:
Coles, T. J. (2018, October 8). Fake News and Weaponized Bots: How Algorithms Inflate Profiles, Spread Disinfo and Disrupt Democracy. Counterpunch,
Algorithms are getting so sophisticated that it is becoming increasingly difficult to tell which online comments are real and which are generated by “bots”; which sites are genuinely popular and which are generating fake hits.
Accordingly, Julian Assange of Wikileaks described corporate efforts to control the Internet as an "existential threat to humanity":
Julian Assange calls effort of corporations to control Internet discourse “an existential threat to humanity” (18 January) 2018
The following statement was sent by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the January 16 webinar Organizing Resistance to Internet Censorship, featuring journalist Chris Hedges and WSWS Chairperson David North. Assange sent the statement from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been trapped for five and a half years. (See today's report on the webinar here)

The future of humanity is the struggle between humans that control machines and machines that control humans. Between the democratization of communication and usurpation of communication by artificial intelligence.
The new influence peddlers aren't simply corporations but also nations
Sheera Frenkel and Nicholas Fandos (Aug. 21, 2018). Facebook Identifies New Influence Operations Spanning Globe. The New York Times

Welcome to the Brave New World....


Social Engineering: The Koch Brothers, Americans for Prosperity, i360 and Social Science One


  1. Yes. In America they are so good at it, they convince, masses people to do things that are psychotically self-destructive.
    Outlandishly self-destructive to the point of insanity. Where is the individuality in that?


      There are at least 16 cases of white-supremacist killings since Trump took office, including Robert Bowers shooting at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh. I couldn't find a comprehensive list, so I created it. THREAD

  2. Yep, I been saying this for of perfecting propaganda, and near immediate feedback of results.



Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.