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Commando Ads: The New DisInfo Tool?

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posted on Mar, 19 2007 @ 09:49 PM
As you know, a new form of an old propoganda technique was recently unleashed on the world. Posted anonymously on YouTube, this 74 second anti-Clinton political ad combines high production values with a rather bold lack of acountability.

Members of the press are impressed by the slick nature of the ad, but they're also troubled by the potential it represents. Political pundits from both sides of the aisle understand what they've just seen, and what it could mean for the future of partisan discourse in America.

Clever people have been putting out ads and other propoganda that look very "official" for more than a thousand years. The tactic is simple. Spread rumor and dissent by making people think that something is so "legitimate" that it's just got to be true. In this case, the rogue propoganda appears to be authorized by the Obama campaign, which is in competition with Hillary Clinton for the 2008 Democratic Presidential nomination. They, of course, deny any connection to it.

The invention of "swift-boating" meant that Commando Ads couldn't be far behind. The internet is a wild and unregulated place. The potential mis-use of Commando Ads could mean that our society is divided even more so than it is today. This goes far beyond the swindle-related spam that you get in your e-mail. This visual medium is ten times more powerful than the best written electronic text.

We should expect governments and corporations to step up their own development of these tools. We should also expect the various underground political movements and ideological groups to see the potential in this skillfully built form of pursuasion. Terrorist groups are already "talking" to us through viral videos. How hard could it be to raise dissent agaisnt a person, group, or government when you appear to speak for them in their own voice? The race will now be on to see who can misappropriate the tools of legitimacy to sway public opinion on a scale that we've never seen before.

[edit on 19-3-2007 by Justin Oldham]

posted on Mar, 22 2007 @ 10:06 AM
It's now being reported that the creator of the now [in]famous anti-Hillary ad has chosen to reveal his identity. Mr. Phil de Vellis is now unemployed. Seems that he worked for a California-based internet ad agency that has (wait for it...) a contract to do PR work for the Obama campaign.

Defenders of Mr. d Vellis are calling what he did a "citizen ad." While I'm sure that his former employers are enjoying their newfound notoriety, the Obama camp is struggling to deal with the aftermath. On one hand, they got some really good advertising for free. On the other hand, they got that good ad work in a sneaky and underhanded way.

Assuming that the label of "citizen ad" sticks, we're still going to see more of this. Expect to see a lot of this stuff that knocks everything from Republicans to railroads. The adaptability of viral videos appears to be endless. As the Federal government begins to make more extensive use of this technology for PSA's, we will no doubt see a considerable amount of disinformation and blatant attempts to sway the viewing public in one direction or the other.

posted on Mar, 22 2007 @ 05:31 PM
IMO, it is tactics such as these that fuel apathy. They do nobody any good, in fact, they just strengthen the perception that all those involved in politics are sly, dishonest, selfish, short sighted, and whatever other negative you would like to add. They damage the very fabric of democracy.

Isn't it about time that all those involved realised that they're not in the playground anymore?

[edit on 22/3/07 by Implosion]

posted on Mar, 22 2007 @ 07:20 PM
You could be on to something there. This technology appeals to those who see it as a way of gaining an advantage. It's very nature as a visual medium appeals to the manipulators because they know how easy it is to use, and how powerful it is in the arena of public opinion. As good citizens, we have to be on our guard.

That, of course, is part of the problem. Too many of us have neglected our civic responsibilities. In this case, we are nulnerable to being misled because the material being presented to us can appear so "legitimate." Those of us in the know assume from the start that most of what we see is misleading. The rest are often left to fend for themselves.

posted on Mar, 22 2007 @ 09:55 PM
Having given this a little more thought, I am now thinking that the whole purpose of these tactics could possibly be to fuel voter apathy.

Here in the UK the apathy is certainly increasing.

The general elections of 2001 and 2005 had the second and third worst turnouts since 1900, falling from 71% in 1997 to under 60% in 2001


The less people who turn out to vote, the less people the political parties actually have to reach. This to me says that a successful campaign could be mounted using less resources than at times of higher turnout. More and more people feel powerless. They see political parties as self serving, they feel that no matter what they do, nothing will really change.

These people who do not vote may as well be living in a dictatorship. They are bound to a system they had no part in choosing. Surly this only empowers those who would like to see the political system as we know it done away with completely. We already have the "Nanny State". I wonder just how much more political parties would like to dictate to us how to live.

posted on Mar, 22 2007 @ 10:41 PM
Your point is well taken. I've made similar remarks about conditions here in the States. American politicians have been practicing the divide-and-conquor strategy for as long as I've been alive to see it with my own eyes. I could easily make the case that it's been going on since the ink dried on our Constitution.

The mainstream political parties in both countires do to a large extent bank on voter apathy. In my opinion, that's why none of the major parties triesvery ahrd to discipline the offenders in their ranks. They have that much contempt for the average voter.

By this time next year, I fully expect that you and I will both be filtering out large numbers of viral videos from our e-mail systems. They'll come from official and private sources, and it won't be easy to tell which are fake and which are the real deal.

posted on Mar, 22 2007 @ 10:46 PM
Politics makes me sick sometimes.

I wonder how long untill right and left decend into war...

Before the civil war, the two sides fought bitter political campaigns for years. Eventually one last loosing election (Lincoln) and the South withdrew and war began.

I hope we take note from history..

posted on Mar, 22 2007 @ 10:52 PM
You're not wrong to wonder about a revolt or civil war. If the Democrats don't make any meaningful mistakes, they stand to be large and in charge by the time Bush43 leaves office. The Republicans could be a negligeable force on Captol Hill.

I do expect to see both sides making active use of viral videos as early as next month. I'm sure that there are atleast a dozen design teams hard at work, even as you read this.

For a long list of reasons discussed in other threads, I think we live in perilous times for one major reason. The next President, whoever that is, could very well be the one that leads the nation to the edge of social chaos.

posted on Mar, 22 2007 @ 10:56 PM
I agree very much so with that statement.. as romantic and depressing as it may be, we have never been as devided and NOT CARE about the devision since Vietnam and the Civil War. Vietnam the protesters didnt have the right mixes to bring about war for 2 reasons.

1. as of now, most of the candidates ARE from the 60's, and now they have the political power that they didnt have back then. Now the nation is devided strictly down party lines..

2. Two completely different beliefs.. the two sides are slowly becoming radically different. Facist on one side, socialist on the other..

Most people stand in the middle, but fence sitters rarely dictate history now do they?

posted on Mar, 23 2007 @ 03:10 AM
That's why discussion like this matter so much. A lot of people are discovering "issues" like the one we're talking about here. They're encountering them for the very first time. As the national situation continues to deterioriate, there will be less and less 'room' for sitting on the fence. Americans from all walks of life will eventually be unavoidably affected by social and political circumstances beyond their control. We'll have to fight back or learn to live with what they already plan to do to us.

posted on Mar, 23 2007 @ 05:09 AM
No one is going to redesign humanity anytime soon and cleverness and ingenuity have always ruled. Don't like attack ads?..then make up your own or ignore them. Eventually the tide will run it's course, until something new comes along.

This is the age of bash and trash your neighbor, which is our misguided way in dealing with our fears of a societal collapse brought on by war, fiat manipulation, climate change and growing demand for finite resources. Fixing the real causes should be the priority, but that hasn't been the case because the current ways still enrich those in power while the masses willingly embrace greater debts.

It started in the classroom...we are programmed for blame.

[edit on 23-3-2007 by Regenmacher]

posted on Mar, 24 2007 @ 11:15 AM
Within just a few years, we'll wonder how we ever got by without the technology of viral videos. As the code becomes more efficient and the process of making these presentations becomes more user-friendly, it'll be harder for micreants and do-gooders alike to resist the temptaiton to use "citizen ads" to promote their producs or causes.

This technology presents today's politicians with new problems. Incumbents and challengers alike risk having their campaigns misrepresentated and the messages hijacked. Video manipulation will become so easy that by the end of this decade, it'll be nearly impossible to tell the fakes from the originals. These potential abuses lend themselves to the tactics of disinformation.

posted on Mar, 24 2007 @ 06:20 PM

Originally posted by Justin Oldham
These potential abuses lend themselves to the tactics of disinformation.

Those that commit 2+ weeks in developing a pro bono commericial are seriously motivated in trying to change the system. These ads are societal barometers and reflect a growing level of anxiety. A society that has been lied to and now learns to lie back. How far the rich/poor rubberband stretches before it's snaps, is the $64k question.

You might find this useful on your path into the political arena:
Social Cycles and the Coming Golden Age

posted on Mar, 24 2007 @ 06:24 PM
American politics is sad. All your ads are so "unclean" and "aggressive" towards other candidates.

posted on Mar, 24 2007 @ 11:32 PM

Originally posted by Regenmacher
Those that commit 2+ weeks in developing a pro bono commericial are seriously motivated in trying to change the system. These ads are societal barometers and reflect a growing level of anxiety. A society that has been lied to and now learns to lie back. How far the rich/poor rubberband stretches before it's snaps, is the $64k question.

I can appreciate your optimistic point of view on this matter. Even so, there are a lot of malicious people out there willing to spend the same amount of time and resources to do wicked things.

By the letter of the law, I am a public figure. It's quite possible that somebody could take issue with me. If they felt strongly enough, anyone could victimize me with this technology. It's true that we've all been lied to, but there is a fine gradient that sperates the lie from the character assassination.

Subtle manipulation is possible through the use of this technology. Suppose I decided to put out a misleading Homeland Security video? I could just as easily fake up what looks like surveillance video from a Federal stakeout that appears to implicate somebody who doesn't deserve the slander.

In the case of the anti-Hillary video, the perpetrator decided to step forward to claim the credit that he was due. His guilt or ego wouldn't let him stay silent. The potential for disinformation at the hands of an ambitious and uncaring person is significant. I think that dark intent far and away outstrips the zeal of the social idealism that you suggest.

[edit on 24-3-2007 by Justin Oldham]

posted on Mar, 25 2007 @ 03:34 AM

Originally posted by Justin Oldham
I think that dark intent far and away outstrips the zeal of the social idealism that you suggest.

I didn't say hate and intolerance is a social idealism. I was making the point that a system built on usury and trepidation doesn't last and these new forms of treachery are indicators of a burn out phase.
The world seeks balance...

[edit on 25-3-2007 by Regenmacher]

posted on Mar, 25 2007 @ 03:48 AM
Tactics such as these are an attempt to penetrate people's media defenses. Televisions ads/propaganda are seen as such: ads/propaganda.
Therefore new tactics are devised taking advantage especially of new media, in which people have less developed defenses. Eventually all such media will be seen as easily manipulatible and therefore meaningless. My point is that the media anti-bodies people possess will (eventually) simply be strengthened even more by these reprehensible practices. Inauthentic agendas will weed themselves out by making those selfsame practices useless.

disinformation as a virus needs no reinforcement.

posted on Mar, 25 2007 @ 07:31 PM
Your point is made. The potential for misuse of this technology is significant. In as much as can and should expect people to become immune to this form of progogandizing, there will always be a large and reactionary segment in any society that remains vulnerable to this form of manipulation.


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