Posts tagged propaganda

China’s Official Party Organ
File under things we missed in 2013: People’s Daily News, the official paper of China’s communist party, got a new building this year.
We say: Form follows function.

China’s Official Party Organ

File under things we missed in 2013: People’s Daily News, the official paper of China’s communist party, got a new building this year.

We say: Form follows function.

A bullet may kill a man, but a lying camera kills a nation.
Words on a leaflet handed out in Cairo. David Kenner, Foreign Policy. Egypt’s Media War Is Almost as Nasty as the One in the Streets.


A few weeks after its previous English-language Twitter account was suspended, al-Shabab, the al-Qaeda linked group from Somalia, has reappeared on the site.

The previous @HSMPress account was suspended when it was used to announce that al-Shabab would kill a French hostage, and then used to announce that it had, indeed, killed him. The new account is @HSMPress1

Meantime, Aaron Zelin writes in Foreign Policy about how persistent hacking attacks on traditional online forums used by militant Islamist groups are affecting their media strategies. For example, many are moving from password protected and relatively “closed” community forums to social sites such as Twitter.

On December 23, 2012… Abdullah Muhammad Mahmud, a writer for the jihadi news agency Dawa al-Haqq Foundation for Studies and Research, which is disseminated via a Wordpress blog, provided guidance to online jihadi activists. Mahmud told his comrades that going forward, it was legitimate to use Twitter and Facebook as sources of information for jihadi-related issues. This advice was in a sense revolutionary, as jihadis had previously emphazized the importance of the forums as a method for authenticating materials, to prevent forgeries of official group content. At the same time, though, many grassroots activists had already been active on online social media platforms for a few years on an individual basis.

If the dissemination of official releases is no longer to be done centrally, it has the potential to make the forums obsolete, and usher in a new era whereby jihadi activists primarily rely on social media platforms to interact with one another. It could also force groups that are part of al-Fajr’s distribution network to evolve and change their methods of content dissemination. There is already some evidence that this shift has started during the ongoing forum takedown.

Zelin, a fellow at the Washington Institute, just released a report on online jihadi behavior for the New American Foundation.

Images: Screenshots of selected Twitter posts by HSM Press, al-Shabab’s English-language press agency. Select to embiggen.

Instagramming Propaganda and the Speed of Experiencing War

One, via Michael Shaw:

[W]elcome to a media space in which we are consuming hostility and processing raw data and raw propaganda almost as quickly as the war correspondent, the fighter pilot, the governments, the diplomats and the antagonists themselves.

Two, via John Edwin Mason:

There’s always been more to war than bombs and bullets. Words and images are weapons, too. They’re the raw material of the propaganda that’s designed to strengthen friends and undermine enemies.

Propaganda has been a part of every war that history knows anything about, and creating and disseminating it has largely been the job of professionals — war doctors, priests, reporters, photographers, politicians, bureaucrats.

Social media and smart phones have let amateurs in on the action.

Three, via Stephen Mayes:

On trust and credibility, it is key to educate ourselves about what we are looking at. I triangulate. I read a bit of information here and there I try to find it elsewhere to validate it. As we saw with Syria, you can fall into a trap. You can read information on 10 blogs but it is all coming from one source. Unless you really dig, it is hard to validate. In the main I think we are all learning that right degree of belief and skepticism in how we treat text and image online. We may be fooled, we may make stupid decisions but we are educating ourselves about what to trust and what not to trust.

It’s not something you can teach.

Images: Selected images from Instagram gathered by searching Israel and Gaza hashtags by John Edwin Mason. Select to embiggen.

Much of the criticism of the American media during the height of the Iraq War focused on its role repeating White House talking points and propaganda. But using the tools of social media, as Israel is doing, reveals there’s no longer a need to rely a media middleman, or to filter the raw feed of war through an “embedded” — and, military officials hope, captured — journalist’s mouth or keyboard. The military can broadcast exactly what it wants to, directly to its citizens, allies, and enemies. The IDF even appropriates the language of news, prefacing several tweets with “BREAKING” — and native social media, at one point saying “in case you missed it” before pointing to a YouTube video of it killing Ahmed Jabari in a missile strike. And unlike any propaganda machine before it, it’s inherently viral. It’s designed to spread. So the IDF spokesperson provides posters and YouTube videos and a constantly updated Flickr account; they’re more shareable than plain text. Its tweets are a mixture of documentation, saber rattling, sober reminders of the reality of war, and upbeat updates on the advanced state of its technology. All delivered direct to you. Please RT…

…Most importantly, though, consider this: A country can declare that it is at war with Twitter. If that doesn’t make the internet real, I don’t know what does.
Matt Buchanan, Buzzfeed. How to Wage War on the Internet.

Currently on the Israeli Defense Forces Twitter Feed

Live blogging its attack on Hamas.

Images: Screenshots from @IDFSpokesperson. Select to embiggen.

Trolling Al Qaeda

The United States appears to have a new counterterrorism strategy built especially for the online age: troll extremist sites and forums.

Via Wired:

The program, called Viral Peace, seeks to occupy the virtual space that extremists fill, one thread or Twitter exchange at a time. Shahed Amanullah, a senior technology adviser to the State Department and Viral Peace’s creator, tells Danger Room he wants to use “logic, humor, satire, [and] religious arguments, not just to confront [extremists], but to undermine and demoralize them.” Think of it as strategic trolling, in pursuit of geopolitical pwnage…

…In an interview at a Washington coffee shop near his State Department office, Amanullah explains that online extremists have “an energy, they’ve got a vitality that frankly attracts some of these at-risk people,” Amanullah says. “It appeals to macho, it appeals to people’s rebellious nature, it appeals to people who feel downtrodden.” Creating a comparable passion on the other side is difficult. But it’s easier if the average online would-be jihadi has his mystique challenged through the trial by fire that is online ridicule…

…But all that is several steps ahead of Viral Peace at the moment. Viral Peace doesn’t have a strategy yet. And to hear Amanullah and his colleagues tell it, the State Department won’t be the ones who come up with one. It’s better, they argue, to let Muslims in various foreign countries figure out which message boards to troll and how to properly troll them. Americans won’t know, say, the Tagalog-language Internet better than Filipinos; and as outsiders, they won’t have the credibility necessary to actually make an impact. The best the State Department can do is train good trolls — which Amanullah began to do this spring.

Wired, News US Counterterrorism Strategy: Trolling.

Journalists: spend $10 to buy and get a Twitter handle


A chilling USA Today story Misinformation campaign targets USA TODAY reporter, editor is currently dominating the Muck Rack Newsroom:

“A USA TODAY reporter and editor investigating Pentagon propaganda contractors have themselves been subjected to a propaganda campaign of sorts, waged on the Internet through a series of bogus websites.”

Everyone is vulnerable to misinformation attacks on the web, but journalists who haven’t put effort into building their digital identities are particularly at risk. For example, both of the victims hadn’t spent $10 to buy their domain names:

“Internet domain registries show the website was created Jan. 7 — just days after Pentagon reporter Tom Vanden Brook first contacted Pentagon contractors involved in the program. Two weeks after his editor Ray Locker’s byline appeared on a story, someone created a similar site,, through the same company.”

As a result, the bogus site is still the 4th non-news Google result for Tom Vanden Brook:

Had this news not broken, the fake site would have been the first non-USA Today result for Tom’s name.

Had Tom set up a site on his own domain name, a Twitter profile and a Muck Rack profile, it’s unlikely a bogus site would have so quickly made it to the first page of Google results for his name.

We’ve said before that journalists owe it to their readers not to be phished. They also need to be proactive about establishing their digital identities before someone else does.

FJP: Abide this Muck Rack pro tip.

Military Seeks Sensor to Gauge Brain's Reaction to Stories


When humanity began telling stories, it began by telling stories of war. Violent Bronze Age fiction, such as the “Iliad,” the Bible and “Gilgamesh,” cast long shadows over entire cultures, often justifying later battles and inspiring future militaries. That trend of spinning yarns of combat continues to this day. To understand the power of stories to shape modern conflicts, DARPA, the Defense Department’s research arm, has initiated a program that will investigate how storytelling and narrative shape our neurobiology.

» via Live Science

FJP: Propaganda going super tech.

Social Media Propaganda Posters

Via Aaron Wood. Click through for more.