The next time you struggle to comprehend how someone could spend their time trolling the Internet in order to defend and downplay whatever government cover-up or abuse is in the news this week, consider the fact that they may be on a government payroll.
The Canadian government has been caught paying a media group to monitor online political discussion and respond to “misinformation,” in order words to spread state-sanctioned propaganda, in the latest scandal to hit the Harper administration.
“Under the pilot program the Harper government paid a media company $75,000 to monitor and respond to online postings about the east coast seal hunt,” reports News1130.
“The government has a lot of power, that it feels the need to monitor public bulletin boards, or places where people express views and then to respond to that, seems to me going beyond a reasonable action the government should be taking,” said UBC Computer Science professor and President of the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association, Richard Rosenberg.
A poll carried on the News1130 website shows that the majority of respondents, 77 per cent, are not intimidated by the fact that the government is monitoring their online conversations, and would not regulate the information they post on the Internet.
Accusations that people who defend the seemingly indefensible in the aftermath of government atrocities, wars and scandals are in the pay of unscrupulous authorities, circulate on a regular basis. But the fact is that governments and transnational corporations have made a habit of using the Internet to spread propaganda by using individuals who pose as neutral observers.
The innovator of these “black propaganda” techniques was undoubtedly Monsanto, who as far back the late 90’s were creating “fake citizens” via their PR front company Bivings to post messages on Internet bulletin boards lauding the virtues and scoffing at the dangers of genetically modified food.
In the 21st century, governments try to harness the power of manufacturing fake consensus in order to dictate reality and justify their actions.
Last year, the Israeli government announced that it would be setting up a network of bloggers to combat websites deemed “problematic” by the Zionist state following a massive online backlash to Israel’s brutal bombing of Gaza.
Israel’s goal was to flood Internet message boards in English, French, Spanish and German with their own PR agents who would attempt to manufacture a contrived consensus that the IDF’s actions were justified.
Like Israel, the U.S. military industrial complex hires armies of trolls to spew propaganda in defense of the war on terror and in support of bombing whatever broken-backed third world country is being targeted next.
CENTCOM has programs underway to infiltrate blogs and message boards to ensure people, “have the opportunity to read positive stories,”presumably about how Iraq is a wonderful liberated democracy and the war on terror really is about protecting Americans from Al-CIAda.
In May 2008, it was revealed that the Pentagon was expanding “Information Operations” on the Internet with purposefully set up foreign news websites, designed to look like independent media sources but in reality carrying direct military propaganda.
More recently the New York Times published an exposé on how privately hired operatives were appearing on major US news networks promoting the interests and operations of the Pentagon and generating favorable news coverage of the so-called war on terror while posing as independent military analysts.
This operation was formally announced in 2006 when the Pentagon set up a unit to “better promote its message across 24-hour rolling news outlets, and particularly on the internet”.
Again, the Pentagon said the move would boost its ability to counter “inaccurate” news stories and exploit new media.
Last year, the US Air Force announced a “counter-blog” response plan aimed at fielding and reacting to material from bloggers who have “negative opinions about the US government and the Air Force.”
The plan, created by the public affairs arm of the Air Force, includes a detailed twelve-point “counter blogging” flow-chart that dictates how officers should tackle what are described as “trolls,” “ragers,” and “misguided” online writers.