Disinformation · Misinformation

Overcoming Disinformation and Misinformation

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Flag of the United States (upside down) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently H.R.5736.IH, the Smith Mundt Modernization Act of 2012, was introduced as a bi-partisan bill in the US House of Representatives.  Please see MountainRunner.us for a great explanation and clarification of the bill itself.

Last week I read an article by Michael Hastings, which I have written about before, which totally misrepresented what the bill is about.  Hastings contends that the bill is about making it easier for the US government to use propaganda on its own people, research on the bill via the MountainRunner.us site will show just how wrong he is.  Matt Armstrong has written about the Smith-Mundt Act for years, held public forums and assisted the Broadcast Board of Governors to undo this antiquated bill. Hastings made his reputation by ruining General Stanley A. McChrystal’s career and many have said that Hastings is attempting to continue this line of yellow journalism.

I sent an email out to thousands of fellow Information Operations, Strategic Communication, Public Diplomacy, advertising, marketing and public relations professionals about the original Michael Hastings article.  Admittedly I had a spelling error in the title so most people probably ignored my call for alarm.  But that is not my current cause for alarm.

My cause for alarm is seeing widespread disinformation (purposeful spreading of false information), which in many cases is misinformation (not knowing the information being spread is wrong) on multiple websites.  Here is a short representative list of many of the websites spreading false information to the unknowing masses.  Here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.  Granted, most of these websites or blogs are of the type that conspiracy theorists love to read.  I have not looked at television since the story by Michael Hastings so I cannot say if the story has penetrated the television broadcast media but I have not seen it on any of the news websites. I have seen multiple postings of the websites I cite above on Facebook, stating in comments that the US government is forever doomed, that it is a fascist state and other such false accusations.  I have not seen this trending on Twitter.

What alarms me is an unmitigated flood of outpouring of negativity against the US government that has gone unanswered.  I have answered a few times, posting links to my blogs, to Matt Armstrong’s blog and said that the situation has been misstated.  I am a seeming lone voice in the storm. There may have been other voices of reasons, but as far as I can tell no other people have posted the truth, the disinformation and misinformation has been allowed to propagate freely, without the truth being injected into the mix.

If the US government were to weigh into the subject, that would immediately be labeled as propaganda – even though it is the truth.  If a contract were made and a civilian corporation were to weigh in on the issue, that would be immediately labeled as propaganda – rightfully so.  But even though I sent a note to thousands and thousands of professionals on a personal basis, making a concerted effort not to send it to seniors within the administration, there have been ZERO attempts on a personal basis to right this wrong.

Many have said Information Operations are only effective on those predisposed to support your way of thinking, that it is a waste of time to try to change the opinions of those opposed to your way of thinking.  I respectfully disagree.  Before we allow such falsehoods to spread freely throughout our nation, poisoning the minds of our malleable citizens, we need to make sure more logical, reasoned, mature and truthful sources of information promulgate information to those most needing the truth.

Why is there no gnashing of teeth, no outcry, no attempt to spread the truth?  Are we a nation with no guts, do we just roll over and play dead, is this a world that just doesn’t care about the truth?


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