Central to modern human experience is the free exchange of information throughout the world.
Knowledge and Control
The ability of a government to manage the information reaching its people is tied to the control it can exert over them. From public service announcements to propaganda, a significant portion of what a population sees and hears is passed through state filters.
In a freely democratic society, much social good can be accomplished through federal and municipal messaging: community outreach, health and safety education are all essential parts of maintaining and improving citizen’s lives. Also, when people can freely criticize their government, a society can grow and change for the better.
Propagandists Don’t Like the Free Flow of Information
“Knowledge is Power” is an axiom that some countries, however, will find irresistibly true. Social media’s ability to put the average individual in control of the message is very troublesome for a government’s ability to shape public focus.
As policing every citizen’s speech is becoming increasingly costly and difficult, they must instead turn to more sweeping solutions: a wholesale removal of access to “disruptive” social media.
Another effective tool in the propagandist’s handbook is not to simply block the message, but to get out in front of scandal with positive messaging, presenting leaders as benevolent and misunderstood.
Social Media Can Be Used in Other Ways
Conversely, social media can also be used for large-scale intimidation, intended to foster fear before contact with opposing forces.
During the times that the public is denied a voice — of appeal to their government, to the ears of the world, and even to each other — they must adapt at pace with their silencers. Resilient, clever and resourceful citizen must use every tool they can to keep their struggles visible.