‘Storyweapons’ and ‘fire hoses of falsehood:’ US military studies campaign techniques


Political candidates use as many techniques as they will to steer you to vote for them.

They goal you in commonplace methods, like gathering electronic mail addresses of individuals who attend rallies and filling up accessible business house with ads. But it additionally will get extra subtle. They can goal you primarily based on the neighbourhood you reside in and what web sites you go to. They can attraction to some of your core fears in an effort to get you to the polls.

Some of the focusing on techniques employed within the political world have drawn consideration from the military because it prepares for warfare in a world the place misinformation and disinformation has taken maintain.

“The main difference between political microtargeting and military information operations is who is doing the targeting and who is the target,” wrote Maj. Jessica Dawson a professor on the Army Cyber Institute. “Substantively, the methods of analysis, information gathering, and actions used to influence behavior are all the same. The fact that one is used on perceived enemies whereas another is used to influence elections is a distinction without difference – meaningless.”

Dawson helped create Invisible Force In 2020, a collaboration of the Army Cyber Institute and Arizona State University to create a graphic novel that features essays exploring some of the threats the military could face sooner or later.

It accommodates examples of how political techniques will be tailored to focus on folks, affect governments and unfold disinformation, making it tough to find out what’s true and what is fake.

Lee McIntyre is a Research Fellow on the Center for Philosophy and History of Science at Boston University who wrote the e book Post-Truth additionally contributed an essay to the graphic novel. He mentioned the wrestle to interpret truth from fiction in anti-vaccination campaigns or conspiracy theories in regards to the 2020 election poses risks.

“We really are in a post-truth era, we really are in an era in which it’s the political subordination of reality,” McIntyre mentioned.

He mentioned governments have at all times unfold disinformation to take care of energy. But the rise of the Internet makes it a lot simpler to affect public dialogue and create confusion round points.

“Creating disinformation is trivial,” McIntyre mentioned. “Amplifying it is where the work is done. And the Internet takes care of the amplification. That’s a huge difference between the leaflets that were dropped from planes back in my dad’s era when he was in World War II and what they can do with Twitter now.”

Part of the issue, McIntyre mentioned, is a disinformation method known as the “fire-hose of falsehood”. With torrents of info being pushed out, it turns into tough for to differentiate between truth and lie.

“The point is not to convince you that the false thing is true,” McIntyre mentioned. “The point is to just tell so many falsehoods, one after the other after the other, some of them self-contradictory, that you just go, ‘I give up. Maybe we can’t know the truth outside a political context. Who knows?’ Because when you do that, that’s when you’re pliable.”

One type of info warfare, known as the “storyweapon”, spreads falsehoods to affect determination making. Advertising knowledgeable Ronnie Gleeson, who coined the time period, wrote earlier this 12 months that former US President Donald Trump’s claims that the 2020 US Presidential election was stolen was a storyweapon.

In an essay included within the graphic novel Invisible Force to assist put together the military for “targeted spreading of misinformation” work, Gleeson says you can’t fight a story that individuals need to consider with issues like truth checks. Stories that resonate, as politicians have realized, often deal with feelings. Fear is a straightforward one to activate, as a result of it could actually inspire folks to vote.

But tales that create a constructive picture in regards to the nation may also be efficient storyweapons, like former President Barack Obama’s “hope” and former President Ronald Reagan’s “morning in America”.

Gleeson argues that combating adverse storyweapons with extra constructive tales that faucet into American patriotism might assist push again.

“You can’t fight off a storyweapon with bullets,” Gleeson wrote. “And if the intended targets are told stories they want to believe, the truth won’t work, either. The only way you beat a storyweapon is with a better story.”

McIntyre mentioned he nonetheless thinks telling the reality is one of the best ways to fight the post-truth period. He mentioned “post-truth” doesn’t imply that individuals now not care about telling the reality. Instead, it means the reality is in peril so it wants “public relations”.

“I’m scared,” McIntyre mentioned. “I don’t know about you but I’m really scared to be living in these times because I remember reading 1984 as a kid and thinking, oh, that couldn’t happen here. Here we are. I mean, nobody’s being tortured in the basement of the Ministry of Love, but we’re setting up the infrastructure for this problem to get even worse.” – McClatchy Washington Bureau/Tribune News Service

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