Astroturfing and Politics Dangerous Bedfellows

Pyramid of Spam

In light of the recent FBI/DOJ fiasco and the recent “shootings” in America & the recent Brexit vote in the UK, I would like to bring to you some examples of how astroturfing is playing a major and dangerous role in politics,economics and liberties and freedom  

In the case of America, When in 2012 the NDA and a companion bill were passed one of the provisions was language that overturned and otherwise repealed a law that made it illegal to propagandize the American public called The Smith Mundt Act  as a result it now makes it legal and gives license to propagandize freely ( YES government sanctioned Astroturfing ) via all media including the web

What this means is that any political party,candidate agency etc….. Can now legally astroturf the public to sway public opinion,agendas,policy and elections the way they need as long as they have a budget big enough

One can see this happening in recent months, weeks and days not only online but on what were once reputable news organizations / broadcasters

To better illustrate the impact of this and before I continue I would like to offer the following references

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smith%E2%80%93Mundt_Act

https://www.rt.com/usa/propaganda-us-smith-amendment-903/

From Business insider:

equates descriptions of combat operations with standard marketing strategies:

For years, commercial advertisers have based their advertising strategies on the premise that there is a positive correlation between the number of times a consumer is exposed to product advertisement and that consumer’s inclination to sample the new product. The very same principle applies to how we influence our target audiences when we conduct COIN.”

http://www.businessinsider.com/ndaa-legalizes-propaganda-2012-5?IR=T

Last but not least to help it bring it home :

Here are two videos one from Naomi Wolf and one from Sharyl Attkisson:

Naomi Wolf:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuB6wavzcww

Sharyl Attkisson:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bYAQ-ZZtEU

Top 10 Astroturfers this is a list that focuses heavily on American politics

https://sharylattkisson.com/top-10-astroturfers/

Now let us have yet another look at the definition of Astroturfing:

astroturfing

ˈastrəʊtəːfɪŋ/

noun

  1. the deceptive practice of presenting an orchestrated marketing or public relations campaign in the guise of unsolicited comments from members of the public

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astroturfing

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Astroturf+Lobbying

Also here in an interesting paper written by Gerry Mackie UCSD Called

Astroturfing Infotopia ( forthcoming theoria ) and can be found on the ucsd.edu website

If you have been reading this blog for a while you will immediately understand the alarming, potentially damaging and dangerous implicit and explicitly dangerous possibilities and threats that this has to a free society whether that be a constitutional republic or a democratic nation

We have already indeed witnessed and suffered the consequences of several instances of Astroturfing by the political class in both the US and Great Britain

In America, one can now basically discount the evening,cable and digital mainstream news as corporate and government  constant 24 hour propaganda spin which in my opinion is a dangerous hallmark of fascism  nearly the same goes for the UK

As evidence of this one can find paid work as what they are calling “crisis actors” here are some examples we found online and across America:

screenshot-boston.craigslist.org 2016-07-09 22-35-0575

tampa.craigslist.org 2016-07-10 00-53-09

I found this one particularly interesting in Los Angeles California which we all Know is one of the world’s biggest media creation hubs in the world

losangeles.craigslist.org 2016-07-09 22-45-57

This is somewhat worrisome to us here at ed’s as with the horrible US economy and massive unemployment this creates a  fringe / cottage micro economy as part of the gig economy which is not a very sound and very expensive proposition for a free society and a healthy economy

Let’s be clear,the whole purpose of astroturf is to influence,manipulate and ultimately convince you there’s widespread support for or against an agenda when there’s not

Astroturfers and propagandists will readily and commonly attack and controversialize the news organizations, personalities and people surrounding an issue rather than sticking to the facts,instead of questioning authority, they question those who question authority and can go to great lengths to silence and/or censor the topics,facts  and/or speakers instead of engaging them.

So, now allow me to pose the following question, is it not entirely possible and probable that the news regarding current events in the US is manufactured and a grand astroturfing/propagandizing endeavour on a massive scale?

Here’s a neat little assignment/example for you from a recent article in the WSJ and how this is being played out on social media just for fun can you spot and see astroturfing at work?

http://graphics.wsj.com/blue-feed-red-feed/#/trump

In the case of the UK and the recent Brexit EU and NHS debacle I will say that the UK is a lot more discreet yet emotionally manipulative in the way the media utilizes these methods and ironically enough they seem to have better results

 

See if you can spot the patterns:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/25/the-long-war-how-vote-leave-and-the-eurosceptics-won/

 

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/25/leave-campaign-rows-back-key-pledges-immigration-nhs-spending

 

In case you are new to this topic I will leave you with this:

It was recently discovered that the world’s leading search engine company had been scrubbing and manipulating search results to rank as page 1 on behalf of Hillary Clinton and omit results and/or omit,censor and manipulate results for the other candidates via astroturf and spam

To recap from a previous article series here are the definitions on the various types of spam used as astroturfing techniques and how they work

  • 1 ) Organic Spam this is basically a rather innocuous  form of spam and happens when robots crawl the net and gather information. You might see some of this happening when one types “cookie” in the search engine and results for double chocolate chip dough comes up
  • 2) E-mail spam which is the most common and known
  • 3) “piggybacking” which is intended not to sell a product but improve search engine ranking
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