China, taking a page from the Russian playbook, has begun a disinformation war in the effort to blunt the Hong Kong protests, according to an article which appeared in today’s New York Times, “Facebook and Twitter Say China Is Spreading Disinformation in Hong Kong”, by Kate Conger. Facebook and Twitter have taken down a number of sites they deem to be a part of this campaign. From the NYT article: “The tumult has increasingly become one of positioning and public image.” We all recall the events of three years ago when as it is noted in the Times article, “Russia pioneered a disinformation playbook when it used Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media services to disseminate inflammatory messages intended to divide Americans in the 2016 presidential election.” The unsettling thing is that this disinformation works so well.
What makes the mind so susceptible to such obvious manipulation? It’s training, in part, I believe. Watching dozens of autoplay videos in one session on youtube trains the mind to accept its incessant rhythms. Machine repetition has created a new kind of groove, a groovy kind of love that turns into a rut after 22.8 repetitions. What happens to the ability to think independently within such a repetition regime?
I wish to point to something that could be said to underlie these latest manifestations, to be put into the form of a question: What is the extent of the overall disinformation war? We have certainly already expanded the potential for such psychomachias beyond anything that has heretofore existed. To my mind this is potentially a totalizing phenomenon. Boring deep into your mind, that they understand better than you do, utilizing the latest advances in the science of persuasion, the Combine will soon have the power to, for all intents and purposes, infinitely extend its management of everyman and everywoman. The tumult will increasingly become one of positioning and public image. 30,000,000 likes can’t be wrong. Don’t you see it gathering steam?