“Weapons with stories” and “fire hoses of lies”: the army studies the techniques of political campaign

“Invisible Force in 2020” is a collaboration of the Army Cyber ​​Institute and Arizona State University to create a graphic novel that includes essays exploring some of the threats the military may face in the future. (Cyber ​​Institute of the Army)

(Tribune News Service) – Political candidates use as many techniques as possible to persuade you to vote for them.

They target you in standard ways, such as collecting the email addresses of people attending rallies and filling the available shopping space with advertisements. But it’s also getting more sophisticated. They can target you based on the neighborhood you live in and the websites you visit. They can appeal to some of your core fears in order to get you to the polls.

Some of the targeting techniques used in politics have caught the military’s attention as it prepares for war in a world where disinformation and disinformation have taken hold.

“The main difference between political micro-targeting and military information operations is who is targeting and who is the target,” wrote University professor Major Jessica Dawson. Cyber ​​Institute of the Army. “Basically, the methods of analysis, information gathering and actions used to influence behavior are all the same. The fact that one is used against perceived enemies while another is used to influence elections is an irrelevant distinction – 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 includes essays exploring some of the threats the military may face in the future.

It contains examples of how political tactics can be adapted to target people, influence governments and spread disinformation, making it difficult to determine what is true and what is false.

Lee McIntyre is a research fellow at the Center for Philosophy and History of Science at Boston University. He wrote the book Post-Truth and also contributed to an essay on the graphic novel. He said the struggle to interpret fact from fiction in anti-vaccination campaigns or conspiracy theories over the 2020 election poses dangers.

“We’re really in a post-truth era, we’re really in an era where it’s the political subordination of reality,” McIntyre said.

He said governments have always spread disinformation to maintain power. But the rise of the Internet makes it much easier to influence public debate and confuse issues.

“Creating disinformation is trivial,” McIntyre said. “Amplifying it is where the work gets done. And the Internet takes care of the amplification. It’s a huge difference between the fliers that were dropped from planes in my dad’s time when he was in WWII and what they can do with Twitter now.

Part of the problem, McIntyre said, is a disinformation technique called the “fire hose of lies.” With torrents of information being expelled, it becomes difficult to distinguish between facts and lies.

“The point is not to convince you that the fake thing is true,” McIntyre said. “The point is to tell so many lies, one after the other, some of them contradictory, that you’re like, ‘I’m giving up. Maybe we can’t know the truth outside of a political context. Who knows?’ Because when you do that, that’s when you’re malleable.

A form of information warfare, called the ‘story weapon’, spreads lies to influence decision-making. Advertising expert Ronnie Gleeson, who coined the term, wrote earlier this year that President Donald Trump’s claims that the 2020 US presidential election was stolen were a matter of weaponry.

In an essay included in the graphic novel “Invisible Force” to help prepare the military for the targeted dissemination of false information, “Gleeson says you can’t fight a story people want to believe with things like checks Facts Stories that resonate, as politicians have learned, usually focus on emotions Fear is easy to activate because it can motivate people to vote.

But stories that create a positive image of the country can also be effective historical weapons, like former President Barack Obama’s “Hope” and former President Ronald Reagan’s “Morning in America”.

Gleeson argues that fighting negative narrative weapons with more positive stories that tap into American patriotism could help push back.

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

McIntyre said he still believes telling the truth is the best way to fight the post-truth era. He said “post-truth” doesn’t mean people don’t care about telling the truth anymore. Instead, it means the truth is in danger, so it needs “public relations.”

“I’m scared,” McIntyre said. “I don’t know about you, but I’m really scared to live in that time because I remember reading 1984 as a kid and thinking, oh, that couldn’t happen here. Here we are. I mean, no one is tortured in the basements of the Ministry of Love, but we are putting the infrastructure in place to make this problem even worse.

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